In a much-anticipated address, President-elect Joe Biden officially laid out to the nation many of the details of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. If passed by Congress, the plan will provide $1,400 to all eligible Americans, as well as crucial funding to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
American Rescue Plan Details: The Biden team is referring to this planned legislation as the American Rescue Plan, designed to pull Americans out of financial hardship and to continue the tough fight against the growing COVID-19 health crisis. The proposal offers a myriad of funding and structural changes to get the nation through the coming months.
Unlike the first two rounds of stimulus money, these checks will also be sent to adult dependents that were not included earlier. The money will also include households with mixed immigrant status.
When Can Americans Expect to See the Personal Stimulus: It is important to understand that the money will not start flowing immediately. This package still needs to be approved by the Senate. Most economists believe that the earliest that Americans may see the $1,400 hit their bank accounts will be mid to late February. The good news for Democrats is that this plan has a much better chance of getting through the Senate now that they are back in control with the tie-breaking vote.
Direct COVID-19 Relief Measures: Another hallmark of the plan is the goal to combat the COVID-19 crisis by providing directed funding. The proposal includes an additional $20 billion to put toward the vaccination effort. There will also be $50 billion for expanded testing.
The administration of President Donald Trump has faced intense criticism over the last few weeks because the COVID-19 vaccination rollout has severely underperformed expectations. Biden is adamant that his administration will tackle this problem head-on with an abundance of funding designed to speed up the process and get the nation on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
Unemployment Aid: Biden also seeks to boost the federal unemployment aid from the $300 weekly amount passed in December to $400 through September. He also wants to extend the payments provided by the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program directed toward self-employed and gig workers. Currently, these programs are set to expire in March. The American Rescue Plan will extend the benefits until September, giving American workers more time to get back on their feet.
Housing Assistance: One of the biggest issues facing Americans these days are escalating housing costs in the time of a pandemic and economic recession. This bill would give $25 billion in rental assistance to qualified households who have faced unemployment as a result of the health crisis. This would add to the $25 billion lawmakers passed in December. More money would also be earmarked to help pay utility bills.
Additionally, the proposal would extend the federal eviction moratorium to September 30. This moratorium is currently set to expire at the end of January. However, some states have already put in specific legislation to extend it in their area.
Other Measures in the Package: In addition to the direct COVID-19 relief measures, the proposal also contains a variety of additional legislation designed to prop up the economy. For example, one key goal of the Biden administration is to mandate a nationwide $15 hourly minimum wage.
The plan also strives to expand the Obamacare premium subsidies, providing more affordable healthcare to the Americans that need it the most. Schools will benefit from an additional $170 billion in aid for the country’s K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. The goal of the money is to provide assistance in helping them to open safely or to provide a better remote learning experience.
Biden also wants to broaden tax credits for at least one year. This measure is intended to help low-income Americans that may be suffering financial challenges as a result of the pandemic. One of the measures will extend the $2,000 child tax credit to $3,000. Children under the age of six will receive an additional $600 for $3,600 in total. This credit would also be fully refundable.
For small businesses, the plan will give $15 billion to implement a new grant program that is similar, yet separate, to the current Paycheck Protection Program. The proposal will also direct $35 billion to state and local governments to provide low-interest loans and venture capital to business owners.