House Passes $1.9 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi meets with reporters before the House votes to pass a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The House passed its $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill early Saturday, sending the massive proposal to the Senate as Democrats rush to approve more aid before unemployment programs expire.

It is the first major legislative initiative for President Joe Biden. The House approved it in a 219-212 mostly party line vote, as two Democrats joined all Republicans in opposing it.

Senators will start considering the pandemic assistance plan next week. Lawmakers will offer amendments, and the chamber will likely pass a different version of the bill, meaning the House would have to pass the Senate’s plan or the chambers would have to craft a final proposal in a conference committee.

Democrats, who hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate, opted to approve the legislation alone through budget reconciliation rather than hammer out a smaller aid package with Republicans. The process enables a bill to pass with a simple majority in the Senate.

“Now, the bill moves to the United States Senate, where I hope it will receive quick action. We have no time to waste,” Biden said during a briefing on Saturday morning.

“If we act now — decisively, quickly and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus,” Biden continued. “We can finally get our economy moving again.”

The House plan includes:

  • Payments of $1,400 to most individuals, along with the same amount for each dependent. Checks start to phase out at $75,000 in income and go to zero for individuals making $100,000
  • A $400 per week unemployment supplement through Aug. 29, along with an extension of programs making millions more people eligible for jobless benefits
  • An expansion of the child tax credit to give families up to $3,600 per child over a year
  • $20 billion for Covid-19 vaccine distribution and $50 billion for testing and tracing efforts
  • $350 billion in state, local and tribal government relief
  • $25 billion for assistance in covering rent payments
  • $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to cover reopening costs and aid to students
  • A $15 per hour federal minimum wage, which the Senate parliamentarian will not allow in the reconciliation bill on the other side of the Capitol

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SOURCE: CNBC, Jacob Pramuk

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