What’s in the US $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package? | News from the United States and Canada

Here are the highlights of what’s in the bill expected to be enacted by President Biden later this week.

The U.S. Congress is preparing to send President Joe Biden a massive $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus and COVID-19 relief package that policymakers hope will pave the way for a resumption of the devastating coronavirus pandemic in the United States. United States.

The bill provides direct payments to individual U.S. citizens, tax credits for families with children, and hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts for state and local governments, pension funds, small businesses, public schools and health care providers.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that the bill should help the United States return to “full employment” next year.

“We have a K-shaped recovery underway, in which high-income people do much better than those at the bottom of the economic ladder – low-paid workers and minorities,” Yellen said in a statement. interview with MSNBC media.

Here are the highlights of what’s in the COVID-19 relief bill adopted by the Senate on March 6 and awaiting final adoption by the United States House of Representatives.

$ 1,400 in direct payments

The bill provides an estimated $ 225 billion in one-time direct payments of up to $ 1,400 for middle- and low-income Americans. The eligibility of checks has been restricted to limit them to individuals earning $ 80,000 per year or less.

Payments would start to be distributed by the US Treasury to approximately 160 million US citizens within days of the bill coming into force.

Unemployed Benefits

The bill continues federal pandemic unemployment assistance of $ 300 per week paid in addition to state unemployment benefits. It avoids the expiration of these benefits on March 14 and extends them until September 6. Biden’s original proposal was to increase federal unemployment assistance to $ 400 per week from the current $ 300 per week, but that was reduced for fear of making things more difficult. for companies to recruit laid-off workers.

Aid to state and local governments

The bill includes $ 350 billion in tax assistance to states, cities and tribal governments to cover additional costs and revenue shortfalls incurred during the pandemic. The revised Senate bill seeks to limit the use of funds, prohibits the bailout of public pension funds, and ensures that small states will receive their fair share of the funding.

School funding

The bill provides $ 130 billion in funding for public elementary and secondary schools over the next three years to begin reopening and recovering from closures that have cost American students up to a year of their education .

COVID stimulus bill to be signed by Joe Biden includes funding to help schools reopen [File: Allison Dinner: Reuters]

Child poverty reduction

The bill seeks to reduce child poverty, which had worsened during the pandemic, by expanding the federal child tax credit. The credit is available to taxpayers who earn up to $ 200,000 per year and have a child living in their household for at least half of the year. The bill increases the child tax credit to $ 3,000 from $ 2,000 and allows it to be paid by the IRS in cash during the second half of the year.

No increase in the minimum wage

The bill does not include an increase in the federal minimum wage of $ 7.25 an hour last set in 2009. The minimum wage varies from state to state, but must at least match the norm federal. The United States House of Representatives had approved an increase in the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, but the provision lacked sufficient support in the Senate to overcome procedural hurdles and was removed.

Health insurance subsidies

The bill includes health insurance subsidies for people who have lost their jobs. Under current US law, those who lose their jobs can stay on their company’s health plan for up to 18 months. The COVID-19 relief bill would provide these people with a 100% monthly subsidy until the end of September. It also expands the availability of health insurance plans on exchanges mandated by the government under the Affordable Care Act.

Vaccines, testing and tracing

The legislation provides $ 14 billion for the distribution and supply of vaccines as the Biden administration pushes for every American adult. vaccinated at the end of May. It also includes $ 8.5 billion for rural health care providers, $ 45 billion in rental and mortgage assistance and extends a federal moratorium on evictions until September, and $ 30 billion for public transport agencies.

The law also provides ongoing funding for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which provides grants to small businesses that pledge to keep employees on their payroll.

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