New stimulus bill to become law in days? What to know now, what happens next

March 8, 2021 0 By boss

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The House will vote on the amended bill on Tuesday, which means Biden could sign in the middle of the week.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Top Democrats’ plan to fast track the nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill is on an accelerated course after the Senate voted to approve the COVID-19 relief package Saturday. In fact, leaders of the Senate and House predict President Joe Biden will sign the COVID-19 relief bill into law before the week is over.

The Senate’s version of the bill (PDF) includes a number of amendments that will affect the total you could receive in a $1,400 check by revising income limits for the third stimulus payment. The change means millions of people won’t qualify for a new check. Unemployment benefits have also been rewritten from the initial proposal, but expanded child tax credits to lower-income families and funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution are unchanged. 

The federal minimum wage increase to $15 was ousted to pass the bill through the Senate, but proponents vow to reintroduce it at a later date. Here’s what you need to know about the relief bill, including the timeline to deliver new stimulus checks. This story is frequently updated.

What happens with the stimulus bill next?

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House will vote on the Senate’s version of the bill Tuesday (PDF), after voting Monday to proceed, Hoyer said in a statement

What often happens in a case like this is the Senate and the House have to link together two different versions of the bill. They could potentially create a conference committee to negotiate common ground between the two proposals. When the versions have been reconciled, the committee would create a report of changes the two chambers can agree to before the plan is sent to Biden to be signed into law.

It isn’t clear at this point if the House will simply vote on the Senate-passed bill as is or if there will be additional committee work behind the scenes.


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A strict income cutoff to accompany the $1,400 stimulus check

The $1,400 stimulus check will start going out to tens of millions of Americans starting this month“targeting” checks to lower income earners and cutting off those categorized as “higher earners.” Under the new eligibility rules, some who qualified for the first two payments may not make the cut for a third. A hard ceiling on income, designed to exclude higher earners from getting a check, would come with a rule change regarding the use of dependents in the stimulus check formula. Check out our stimulus payment calculator to see how the new Senate income cap will affect you.

The new proposal would give the IRS a deadline of Dec. 31 to finish sending the stimulus checks.

For this third round of payments, congressional Democrats intend to include adult dependents as well as children and families with mixed-status citizenship. Here are all the ways a third check could bring you more moneyhow you could get less or how you might be disqualified altogether. Here’s what happens to your total if a check arrives during tax season. And here’s how the third check compares with the first two payments approved in 2020.

$300 in weekly unemployment benefits, but with tax relief

Under the Senate Democrats’ plan, federal unemployment checks would extend to Sept. 6 at a $300 weekly rate. The House had initially proposed a $400 weekly payment ending in August. The Senate plan would also reduce the tax burden on the unemployment money for households earning less than $150,000 a year. If the new bill is approved by March 14, it would renew the weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December without a gap in funding.

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Democrats want to help students with loan debt.


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Expanded child tax credit for 2021 worth more than stimulus checks

The bill would expand the child tax credit that currently allows families to claim up to a $2,000 credit for children under 17 years of age. If approved, the plan would extend the benefit to lower-income families who otherwise wouldn’t receive the credit. Families could claim up to $3,600 per year for a child under 6 and up to $3,000 per year for those between the ages of 6 and 17.

The plan also removes a provision that you have to make $2,500 a year to receive the credit and makes the credits fully refundable. In addition, it would expand tax credits for one year to help cover the cost of childcare. Families could get back as a tax credit as much as half their spending on childcare for children under age 13, up to $4,000 for a single child and $8,000 for two or more children.

No $15 minimum wage increase yet 

Senate Democrats jettisoned a provision in the relief bill to boost the minimum wage, after the Senate parliamentarian, who determines which items can and can’t be included in the bill under a technique known as budget reconciliation, determined that the provision fell outside of guidelines. Proponents will look to include the $15 hourly rate in another bill.

“If any Senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted March 5. “We’re going to keep bringing it up, and we’re going to get it done because it is what the American people demand and need.”

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Congress may set aside more money for child tax credits.


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What’s going on with student loan forgiveness?

Though forgiving student loan debt is part of the discussion, Senate Democrats and Biden have different dollar figures in mind for how much to cancel. Biden on Feb. 16 said he supports canceling $10,000 in student debt per borrower and extending the pause on student loan repayment. Biden’s figure is at odds with a Senate Democrat proposal, however, that calls for canceling up to $50,000 in student debt.

“I do think that, in this moment of economic pain and strain, that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, No. 1. And No. 2, I’m prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not $50,000,” Biden said. The House and Senate versions of the bill don’t address student loan debt.

What about coronavirus vaccine delivery money?

More than 96 million vaccine doses have so far been distributed in the US — and more than 75 million administered — with the country on track to meet Biden’s goal of 100 million jabs during the first 100 days of his administration (April 30 marks his 100th day in office.) In a town hall-style meeting on CNN on Feb. 16, Biden said that by the end of July, the country will have enough supply to vaccinate everyone in the US. The goal then becomes having enough of the other supplies, as well as people, to administer the vaccine.

Biden’s plan would set aside $160 billion for a nationwide vaccine program that would help state and local governments get the vaccine into people’s arms.

Funding to help reopen schools during COVID-19

Getting students back in physical classrooms is a critical piece of the economic recovery. The bill would work to return students to schools by having a majority of kindergarten to eighth-grade classrooms safely reopen in the first 100 days of the administration.

Extra money for state, local and tribal governments

Since the fall, economists have pushed for Congress to provide funding for state and local public jobs. “The case for additional aid is strong because the downside risk of doing nothing is quite real,” the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, said at the end of last year. “The fact that over 1 million state and local government workers have lost their jobs is a sign that fiscal distress has had real consequences.” In addition to state and local funding, the bill would provide funds for food and water assistance and food stamps.

Eviction ban already extended through September

The new proposal would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until Sept. 30. The plan would provide $30 billion in rental assistance for renters and small landlords, especially for low- and moderate-income households. On Jan. 20, Biden signed an executive order extending the eviction ban through this month, which means it may not be part of the final new stimulus bill at all.

For more information about stimulus money, here are the top facts you need to know about stimulus checks, how to calculate the size of your check and how your dependents could figure into your payment.



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