The $1.9 trillion stimulus plan passed the Senate on Saturday, March 6, with a few alterations to the House bill.
It did, however, include additional funding for one month’s rent or mortgage payment to help prevent evictions, as well as a month’s utility payments to prevent service cut-offs.
Below are a few of the plan’s biggest provisions, how they would work and what they might mean for the United States economy .
Like the House version, the Senate bill includes $1,400 stimulus checks to Americans but it lowered the income eligibility for taxpayers getting the payments.
Under the House bill, stimulus checks would phase out for individuals making between $75,000-$100,000 a year and couples making $150,000-$200,000. Under the Senate bill, the phase out stops at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples.
Roughly 8 million fewer households will get a check under the Senate bill compared with what the House passed, according to an analysis from the Tax Policy Center.
Unemployment benefits reduced
Although both the Senate and House passed direct payments and unemployment benefits provisions, the Senate amended both provisions during their debate after voting on the relief bill was stalled for several hours.
The House bill extended federal unemployment benefits until Aug. 29 and increased that aid to $400 a week. That’s on top of what beneficiaries are getting through their state unemployment insurance program.
The Senate bill would extend the enhanced unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. Also, the first $10,200 of benefits would non-taxable. The provision applies to households with incomes under $150,000.
CA subway, NY bridge projects nixed
The Senate dropped two contentious provisions from the House bill that Republicans had derided as wasteful, pork-barrel spending for the Democratic strongholds of California and New York, although the bridge connecting Canada and New York had originally been a part of a funding request by then-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao under the Trump administration.
The two projects were the expansion of the Bay Area subway system, BART, and the construction of a bridge between upstate New York and Canada.
Schools could get money to reopen
The administration says it wants to make “the necessary investments to meet the president-elect’s goal of safely reopening a majority” of kindergarten-to-eighth-grade schools within Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office.
Administration officials are suggesting $170 billion for schools, supplemented by additional state and local funds. About $130 billion of that would go toward reopening, while much of the rest of the money would go to help colleges dealing with the shift to distance learning and other pandemic-tied problems.
Limits on aid for state and local government
The Senate provides $350 billion for state and local government, which is the same as the House version, but adds the stipulation that the money can only cover costs incurred by the end of 2024. And the money can’t be used to offset tax cuts or create a pension fund.
Another stipulation of the Senate bill requires that small states get at least the same amount that they received under the last COVID relief package from last March.
States will also receive $10 billion under a new Critical Infrastructure Projects program that would help states, territories and tribal governments carry out capital projects.
Funding for the Economic Development Administration increased to $750 million under the Senate bill. That money is intended to go to communities hurt by job and revenue loss related to the decline in tourism, travel and outdoor recreation.
Under a law known as COBRA, those who lose their jobs can remain on their company’s health care plan for up to 18 months but they usually still must pay their full monthly premium. The Senate’s bill will subsidize 100% of those premiums under COBRA through the end of September to ensure laid-off workers can keep their health insurance.
While the House also included provisions to subsidize health insurance premiums, they were capped at 85% of the cost.
The Senate also included $8.5 billion for the Provider Relief Program to help struggling health care providers in rural areas that have yet to receive their share of COVID-19 relief.
The Senate also approved $510 million more than the House to fund FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which provides support to homeless service providers for overnight shelter, meals, food banks and pantries across the country.
And the Senate bill provides Amtrak and the United States Digital Service with an additional $200 million on top of what the House passed for relief funding.
The increased funding for the USDS will help meet the high demand from different agencies that need help providing services, including vaccine distribution, unemployment assistance and stimulus checks.