The Senate passed a budget resolution on Friday for President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue (stimulus) Plan. With a Senate vote of 50-50, Vice President Kamala Harris cast her vote to break the tie and move the resolution forward. The House of Representatives later ratified the resolution with no GOP support and the opposition of only two Democrats.
Here are some of the major amendments contained in the resolution:
1. Stimulus Checks. $1,400.00 stimulus checks will go to low- and middle-income Americans. This is in addition to the most recent round of $600.00 checks send out in early January 2021. Exactly who qualifies as low- and middle-income has yet to be determined.
2. Unemployment Benefits. An increase in the amount unemployment payments from $300.00 a week to $400.00 a week. Unemployment payments would be extended through September 2021. The current round of unemployment benefits is set to expire in mid-March.
3. Rental Assistance and Eviction Moratorium. $25 billion for rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households who have lost employment due to COVID. This is in addition to the $25 billion that was given to the assistance program in December 2020. An additional $5 billion would go towards assisting renters with paying utility bills. Another $5 billion would go towards helping states and localities assist those who are at risk of homelessness. Lastly, the resolution provides for an extension of the federal eviction moratorium through September 2021. The current moratorium expired at the end of January 2021.
4. Small Businesses. $15 billion would go to a new grant program for small businesses. This would be separate and in addition to the existing PPP.
5. States and Schools. $350 billion would go to state and local governments to keep their workers employed, distribute the vaccine, increase COVID testing, reopen schools, and maintain vital services. An additional $170 billion would go to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to allow them to remain open safely or to facilitate remote learning.
6. Vaccines and Testing. $20 billion goes to a national vaccination program and $50 billion goes towards testing including purchasing tests, expanding lab capacity, and helping schools implement regular testing in an effort to allow them to remain open.
What happens next? Congressional committees will use the resolution as a blueprint to construct Biden’s stimulus bill. The House plans to have the bill drafted by the end of February while the Senate drafts its own version of the bill.
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