The Biden Administration is proposing a titanic bill to provide pandemic relief and economic stimulus. As with all massive pieces of legislation, there are a lot of moving parts most Americans may not be aware of.
The bill is substantially larger than the $900 billion package passed late last year and signed into law by former President Donald Trump around the Christmas holiday. And while the Democrats have a narrow Senate majority now in a 50-50 split chamber with Vice President Kamala Harris representing the tiebreaking vote, the proposed package could still face some resistance based on its steep cost.
Let’s take a closer look at what Biden’s COVID relief package will entail.
Most Americans received $600 stimulus checks from the December 2020 bill, though former President Trump called the amount disgraceful and agreed with Democrats and a number of Republicans that voiced support for higher payments for the people who need it most. Biden’s plan would call for $1,400 stimulus checks for eligible adults and their dependent children, bringing the total direct payment to $2,000 per person when you count the $600 from several weeks ago. Non-mortgage debt continues to increase on average for American citizens, and a growing number are concerned about making ends meet as this pandemic drags on. The cash could come at just the right time, as most Americans say that’s what they’d use any additional money for.
Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
Currently, thanks to the December 2020 relief bill, out of work Americans are entitled to a $300 increase in their federal unemployment benefits. Biden’s plan aims to increase this amount of enhanced federal unemployment to $400 through September 2021.
Some $160 billion of the relief package will go toward enhancing and accelerating the COVID-19 vaccination effort. It has become clear that having enough Americans take the vaccines until herd immunity is reached is the best way out of this pandemic, and this initiative aligns with Biden’s goal to administer 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his presidency.
Furthermore, about $350 billion is set aside to support local state and local governments, and another $170 billion would be dedicated to ensuring schools throughout the country are able to safely reopen.
Will it Pass?
With Democratic control of both chambers of Congress, the bill appears likely to reach Biden’s desk. However, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a very moderate Democrat, has signaled opposition to the package, citing the extraordinary cost of it. It’s likely, however, that even a “no” vote from Manchin would be offset by several “yes” votes from Republican Senators who voiced support for larger individual payments in December.