On Saturday the Senate approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and now House Democrats plan final approval Tuesday. Is relief finally on the way?
Congress Democrats aim to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief on Tuesday and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, before unemployment supplement and provisions expanding eligibility for insurance expire on March 14. Are they in time to do so?
On Saturday, a week after the House passed the relief bill, the Senate approved the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in a 50-49 party-line vote.
Senate Democrats settled on a plan to keep the current $300 per week jobless benefit boost in place through Sept. 6 while making the first $10,200 in assistance tax-free. The proposal cut the $400 weekly supplement through Aug. 29 passed in the House a week ago.
This change — plus a separate Senate decision to limit the number of people receiving stimulus checks — could have lost the support of progressives in the House, but Biden endorsed the unemployment deal.
As the upper chamber passed a different version of the relief bill, the House must reconvene again to move toward approving the Senate-passed proposal.
In addition to direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, a $300 weekly boost to jobless benefits into September, and an expansion of the child tax credit for one year, the legislation also puts new funding into Covid-19 vaccine distribution and testing, rental assistance for struggling households and K-12 schools for reopening costs.
While the GOP and some economists criticized the scope and price tag of the rescue package, Democrats said they needed bold action to prevent a slow recovery and a future economic crisis.
The Senators passed the bill through budget reconciliation, a process that required no Republican support but every Democratic vote.