Senate and House Pass $1.9 Trillion American Rescue PlanBy Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Senior National Correspondent / March 11, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden promised help was on the way to an America still battered by COVID-19, and after a marathon session of debate known as vote-a-rama and some dissension in the Democratic ranks – particularly Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia—the U.S. Senate finally passed the president’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on Saturday, March 6.
“Today, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan bringing us one step closer to delivering much-needed relief,” President Biden said from the White House shortly after the measure passed along party lines.
“When I took office, I promised help was on the way. Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and Senate Democrats, we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise. I hope the American Rescue Plan receives quick passage in the House so it can be sent to my desk to be signed,” the president continued.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared just prior to the vote that “we’re not going to make the same mistake we made after the last economic downtown, when Congress did too little to help the nation rebound, locking us into a long, slow, painful recovery. We are not going to be timid in the face of big challenges.”
Following the vote, Sen. Schumer spoke with the president on the telephone.
“He put together a great plan. It was just right,” the Senator remarked.
“It was strong and deep, but also very popular.”
The vote was the first significant test of the Biden Presidency.
It served as a litmus test of how united Democrats would be after four years of having debilitating Donald Trump-led legislation rammed through a favorable Senate.
During the four years of Republican control, a host of Democrat-proposed bills stalled in the upper chamber in what became known as former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s graveyard.
Sen. Manchin, who has discovered new and swing-vote power, has wielded it mightily, forcing changes to the bill that was passed by the House a week earlier.
The West Virginia moderate objected to the president’s and other Democrats who fought to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. That portion of the bill was removed to facilitate the legislation getting through the reconciliation process. Sen. Manchin held up the vote for hours wanting – and receiving – a change from $400 to $300 to the federal unemployment insurance addition to the bill.
Ultimately, the bill passed along party lines 50-49 – one Republican Senator was absent, and therefore, Democrats didn’t need Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
It’s believed that the IRS would quickly begin sending out a new round of stimulus payments. Single tax filers making $75,000 or less would receive $1,400, while married couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 would receive $2,800.
Families will also receive $1,400 per child, and adult children claimed as dependents would also receive $1,400.
Unlike previous stimulus payments, single tax filers making at least $80,000, or couples earning more than $160,000, will not receive a check.
It’s also important to know that the IRS will determine eligibility based on either a 2019 or 2020 tax return.
If you have not filed your 2020 taxes, the government will use 2019 income.
Individuals who may have lost their jobs or whose incomes decreased in 2020 should file as soon as possible.
Otherwise, the IRS will use your 2019 income.
Like the previous stimulus, you are not required to pay taxes on the payments, and those owing child support or student debt to the federal government will be protected from garnishment.
However, lawmakers did not make provisions to protect anyone from garnishment who might have private debt.
- Families will also receive $1,400 per child, and adult children claimed as dependents would
also receive $1,400.
- Families whose children’s schools have remained closed will receive EBT benefits through
- Families who qualify would receive a child tax credit of $3,600 for each child under six.
- Families will also receive $3,000 tax credit for each child under age 18, up from the current
credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.
- Married couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 would receive $2,800.
- Single tax filers making $75,000 or less would receive $1,400.
- Single tax filers making at least $80,000, or couples earning more than $160,000, will not receive a check.
- IRS will determine eligibility based on either a 2019 or 2020 tax return.
- The first $10,200 of unemployment payments are tax-free.
- People receiving food stamps will see a 15 percent increase in benefits through September.
- $20 billion will go to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back
rent and utility bills.
- Plan provides $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), which provides
long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration.
- Severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some
of the money.
- More people will qualify for higher premium subsidies through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).