The House is expected to pass a $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package by Friday, including 1,400 checks for most Americans and billions of dollars for schools, local and local governments and businesses.
Republicans are overwhelmingly against the bill, raising fears that the spending is far more than necessary and designed to advance political priorities that go beyond helping Americans weather the pandemic. Democrats and President Joe Biden counter that a strong aid package is needed to prevent a long and painful resumption of the pandemic.
Democrats’ goal is to have COVID-19 aid approved by mid-March, when additional unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. The Senate, which Democrats control with a decisive vice president vote, will then consider the bill.
An overview of some highlights of the legislation:
The law provides for a refund of $ 1,400 for a single taxpayer or $ 2,800 for a married couple filing jointly, plus $ 1,400 per dependent. People earning up to $ 75,000 would receive the full amount, as would married couples with incomes of up to $ 150,000.
The amount of the check would decrease for those who earn a little more, with a threshold of $ 100,000 for individuals and $ 200,000 for married couples.
Some Republicans want to reduce the size of the rebate as well as the pool of Americans eligible for it, but Biden insisted on the $ 1,400 checks, saying, “That’s what the American people promised.” The new round of checks will cost the government approximately $ 422 billion.
A GREATER TAX BREAK FOR HOUSEHOLDS WITH CHILDREN
Under current law, most taxpayers can reduce their federal income tax bill by up to $ 2,000 per child. The House move program would increase tax relief to $ 3,000 for each child aged 6 to 17 and to $ 3,600 for each child under age 6.
The law also requires that payments be made monthly rather than in one lump sum. If the Secretary of the Treasury finds this not feasible, payments should be made as often as possible.
Additionally, families would get all the credit, no matter how little they earn in a year, or even a few hundred dollars, leading to criticism that the changes discourage work. Add the $ 1,400 per individual check and other elements of the proposal, and the legislation would more than halve the number of children living in poverty, according to an analysis by Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy.
AID TO STATES AND CITIES
The bill would send $ 350 billion to state and local governments and tribal governments. While Congressional Republicans have largely opposed the move, Biden’s push has some GOP support among governors and mayors.
Many communities have attacked their tax base as millions of people have lost their jobs and people stay home and avoid restaurants and shops to avoid contracting COVID-19. Many regions have also seen their spending increase as they work to treat sick people and increase vaccinations.
But the impact varies from state to state and city to city. Critics say the funding is not properly targeted and is far more than needed with billions of dollars allocated last spring to states and communities still unspent.
HELP FOR SCHOOLS
The bill provides $ 130 billion in additional support to schools for kindergarten to grade 12 students. The money would be used to reduce class sizes and modify classrooms to improve social distancing, install ventilation systems and purchase personal protective equipment. The money could also be used to increase the hiring of nurses and counselors and to offer summer courses.
Spending at colleges and universities would be increased by $ 40 billion, with the money being used to cover an institution’s pandemic-related expenses and to provide emergency assistance to students to cover expenses such as food, housing and computer equipment.
The bill provides another round of relief for qualifying airlines and contractors, $ 15 billion, provided they refrain from firing workers or cutting wages until September. This is the third round of airline support.
A new program for restaurants and bars affected by the pandemic would receive $ 25 billion. Grants provide up to $ 10 million per entity with a limit of $ 5 million per physical location. Grants can be used to cover payroll, rent, utilities, and other operational expenses.
The bill also provides an additional $ 7.25 billion for the paycheck protection program, a tiny fraction of what was allocated in previous legislation. The loans are designed to help borrowers cope with their payroll and operating costs and can eventually be canceled.
The increased unemployment benefits from the federal government would be extended, with an increase from $ 300 per week to $ 400 per week. This is on top of what beneficiaries get through their public unemployment insurance program.
The bill provides money for key elements of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response, while trying to advance long-standing democratic priorities like increasing coverage under the Biden Act. the affordable care of the Obama era.
On “Obamacare”, he swings a tax carrot in front of a dozen states, mainly in the South, which have not yet taken over the Medicaid extension of the law to cover more low-income adults. It’s unclear whether such a sweetener would be enough to begin to exhaust long-standing Republican opposition to the expansion of Medicaid.
The bill provides $ 46 billion to expand federal, state and local testing for COVID-19 and to improve contract tracing capabilities with new investments to expand lab capacity and set up mobile testing units . It also contains around $ 14 billion to accelerate the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines across the country.
INCREASE THE MINIMUM SALARY
The bill would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour by June 2025, then adjust it to increase at the same rate as the median hourly wage. However, this provision should not survive in the final bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that he could not be included in the COVID-19 economic relief package as part of the process Democrats have chosen to undertake to pass a bill by simple majority.
Biden had predicted such an outcome. Still, the move was a stinging setback for most Democratic lawmakers who had said the higher minimum wage would raise the wages of millions of Americans. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicted that the new federal minimum wage would lift some 900,000 people out of poverty once it was fully in place. But Republicans said mandatory wage hikes would make it harder for small businesses to survive, and they pointed to CBO’s projection that around 1.4 million jobs would be lost as employers seek ways to offset costs. higher staff.
Suggest a correction