After squeaking through a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill is headed to the Senate. But a sticking point has emerged that could delay the bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, and send passions flying. The House version of the bill would boost the over the next five years, a hotly debated provision that could be heavily reshaped or pulled entirely, before the Senate casts its votes.-- 219-to-212 -- the
Adding to the pressure, lawmakers have just two weeks to complete their work if they're to meet a March 14 deadline to extend nearly 600-page bill would , , and send to struggling families and individuals.. In addition to raising the federal minimum wage, the
Here's what you need to know about the relief bill as it heads over to the Senate, including, which falls in the . This story is regularly updated with new information.
$15 minimum wage fight moves to the Senate
Boosting the federal minimum wage rate is a cornerstone of the Democrats' economic recovery plan, and also the most controversial and imperiled portion of the bill. The minimum wage rate has stood at $7.25 an hour since 2009. If Congress were to boost minimum wage to $15 an hour, 32 million US workers, or 21% of the workforce, would see their hourly wage lifted, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.
"An increase in the minimum wage is a financial necessity for our families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor Friday night, prior to the vote. "It is therefore inevitable to all of us that the $15 minimum wage will be achieved, even if it is inconceivable to some."
The House-approved bill includes the $15 minimum wage hike, but the pay raise is facing growing resistance from Republicans, some Democrats and even the Senate parliamentarian, who determines which items can and can't be included in the bill under a , which Democrats are relying on to speed the bill through the approval process.
It'll be up to the Senate to tackle the minimum wage provision. The Senate could strike the minimum wage language when it receives the bill. Or it could take another route, such as penalizing large companies that don't pay employees at least $15 an hour. While most Republicans oppose the bill, some are pushing for a smaller wage hike. Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and Mitt Romney, for example, proposed going lower, setting the minimum wage at $10.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Joe Manchin said the $15 an hour rate is too high and that he'd support a raise to $11 an hour. Fellow Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is also opposed. Both these votes are deemed essential to pass the package along party lines.
A $1,400 third stimulus check, with an income cutoff
Aamount looks set. Congressional Democrats, however, are considering new rules to . Under those proposed eligibility rules, some 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 for the in the . Check out our to see how that could work for you.
The new proposal would give the IRS a deadline of Dec. 31 this year to finish sending the stimulus checks.
For this, Congressional Democrats are pushing to include and . Here are , or or be . Here's what . And here is .
What's going on with student loan forgiveness?
Forgiving student loan debt is on the table, but Senate Democrats and Biden have different dollar figures in mind for how much to cancel. Biden this month said he supports canceling $10,000 in student debt 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 on Feb. 16. The House bill doesn't address student loan debt.
Additional $400 in weekly unemployment benefits
If the new bill is approved by March 14, it would renew the federal unemployment aid without a gap in funding. The House version of the plan would send $400 federal unemployment payments through August, with triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out of work and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions.
The weeklyCongress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-19 relief legislation are .
Expanded child tax credit would bring thousands of dollars more
The House bill would wouldn't receive the credit. Families could claim up to $3,600 per year for a child under age 6 and up to $3,000 per year for those ages 6 to 17.that currently allows families to claim up to a $2,000 credit for children under age 17. If approved, the plan would extend the benefit to lower-income families who otherwise
The expansion would target low- and middle-income households, according to Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. "More than one-third of the benefit would go to the lowest income parents, who'd get an average tax cut of almost $3,300," Gleckman wrote on Feb. 10. "Low- and middle-income parents would receive nearly 80% of benefits."
The plan would also expand tax credits for one year to help cover the cost of child care. Families could get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to $4,000 for a single child and $8,000 for two or more children.
Coronavirus vaccine delivery across the US
Nearly 95 million vaccine doses have so far been distributed in the US -- and over 70 million administered -- with the country on track to meet Biden's goal of 100 million vaccine jabs during the first 100 days of his administration (April 30 would be 100 days after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration). 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 other supplies and people to administer the vaccine.
Biden's plan would set aside $160 billion for a that would help state and local governments get the vaccine into people's systems.
Eviction ban 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 March, which means it may not be part of the final new stimulus bill at all.
Funds to help reopen schools during COVID-19
Getting students back on campus 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.
Additional 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.
For more information about stimulus money, here are the, how to and how your .