President Biden’s COVID Relief Bill Passes

March 12, 2021

Over the weekend, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill along party lines. The bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, was approved by the House on Wednesday and went to the President’s desk, where he signed the bill into law yesterday. This is President Biden’s first legislative victory.

Here are the highlights of what’s in the bill:

  • Direct payments: individuals making up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,400 payments per person; each dependent will also receive $1,400. Payments phase out for individuals earning $80,000 to $100,000 and for couples who earn $160,000 to $200,000.
  • Unemployment benefits: the Senate lowered unemployment insurance payments from $400 to $300 per week. The benefits will now go until September 6th.
  • Child tax credit: the credit will increase the amount to $3,000 for a child between 6-17 years old and $3,600 for children under 6 years old. The amount is phased out for couples earning over $150,000 and single individuals over $75,000.
  • Paycheck Protection Program: $7.25 billion will be directed for the loan program. The legislation will allow more nonprofits to apply as well as larger nonprofits. It will also make it easier for small businesses to apply and receive funds.
  • Centers for Disease Control: the bill will send $7.5 billion to the CDC for tracking, administering and distributing the vaccine, $46 billion for diagnosing and tracing and $2 billion for distribution of supplies and PPE.
  • Small Business Administration: $25 billion will be allocated for a new grant program aimed at restaurants and bars. Grants will be up to $10 million per business and $5 million per location. $5 billion of the funds will be set aside for smaller establishments.
  • Education: $128 billion will go to grants to state educational agencies; 90% will go to the locals and $39 billion to higher education. $15 billion will go towards child care facilities in high need areas.

Closer to home, this week the hate crimes bill had three subcommittee hearings. Two took place on Tuesday, where the Metro Chambers Coalition submitted testimony in support of the bill, along with dozens of other organizations.

On Thursday morning, the subcommittee met again to deliberate the legislation. There were a few changes made by Judiciary Chairman Chris Murphy via amendment. His amendment reduced the classes to the six primary: race, color, religion, sex, national origin and disability; made sure the hate crime enhancement cannot exceed the overlying penalties for the underlying crime; and deleted the civil course of action from the bill that gave some religious groups concern.

The bill now moves to the full House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Murphy stated it was his intention to move the bill out of the House prior to the crossover deadline. Great news! 

Have a great weekend.

George Ramsey
Senior Director of Legislative Relations

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