Another round of $1,400 stimulus checks and extended $300-per-week unemployment benefits, along with more food and rental assistance, got one step closer to American’s pockets Saturday morning.
The U.S. Senate narrowly passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan in a party-line vote of 50 to 49, after 27 hours of debate.
The legislation will now go back to the House for final approval, and then head to President Biden’s desk for his signature. Democrats hope to have the bill to his desk before unemployment aid programs expire on March 14.
Three main adjustments were made to the House bill before the Senate’s passage.
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ effort to put a $15 minimum wage hike into the bill failed late Friday night, setting a record for the longest vote in modern Senate history — 11 hours and 50 minutes. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that the measure violated the rules of reconciliation, the procedure Democratic leaders were using to approve the bill in the chamber without any Republican support.
The unemployment benefits were lowered to $300 a week versus the House’s $400, but the aid will extend through Sept. 6. The first $10,200 of the jobless benefits will also be tax-free to households with incomes under $150,000, according to national media reports.
The Senate also decided to narrow the eligibility for stimulus checks by 7 million families, who will now receive a partial payment of what they would have under the House version of the bill. The new bill cut off couples who earn more than $160,000 a year and individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 will receive the full $1,400; married couples earning less than $150,000 a year will receive $2,800; and families with children will be eligible for an additional $1,400 per dependent.
The Senate’s version will deliver money to about 90% of American families, and adult dependents, such as college students, will be eligible for the payments as well.
The child tax credit was extended for one year and new funding is going toward COVID-19 vaccine funding and testing, rental assistance and K-12 schools for reopening costs, as was proposed in the House bill.
On Saturday, President Biden issued remarks on the passage of the American Rescue Plan, thanking Vice President Kamala Harris and the senators who reached “a compromise to do the right thing for the American people during this crisis.”
“It obviously wasn’t easy, it wasn’t always pretty, but it was so desperately needed — urgently needed,” he said.
“This nation has suffered too much for too long,” he added. “And everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail, starting with beating this virus and vaccinating the country.”
President Biden again said he believes America will have enough vaccine supply for every American by the end of May, but acknowledges it would “take longer to get it in their arm, but that’s how much vaccine we’ll have.”
President Biden said he hopes the bill will find “quick passage” in the House “so it can be sent to my desk to be signed into law.”