We're starting to see what the $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package might actually look like.
The House of Representatives was busy developing its version of the Budget Reconciliation Package, which includes $ 1,400 of stimulus checks for those with incomes up to $ 75,000, $ 400 of extended weekly unemployment benefits, and an increase in the minimum wage through August 29 currently covers $ 15 through 2025. It includes a restaurant rescue fund, money to reopen schools, and long-awaited Democratic funding for state and local governments.
The biggest ticket items were among the most controversial: while a few other goals for stimulus checks were discussed, House Biden's proposal comes pretty close to the original plan. The $ 1,400 stimulus checks are for those earning up to $ 75,000 a year, and the checks expire on an annual income of $ 100,000 (there has been a lot of back and forth as to whether or not they should be targeted more closely at people on lower incomes).
Extended Weekly Unemployment Benefit is currently $ 300 and expires on March 14th. This bill expands it to $ 400 by August 29 and expands the pandemic-related benefits for freelancers and contractors, as well as the expanded state benefits for the same period. That saves Biden a month.
One big question mark in the House of Representatives proposal is the federal minimum wage, which the bill would raise to $ 15 an hour by 2025. There are important questions about whether a minimum wage increase can survive the reconciliation process and bypass Senate MPs. But for now, at least, the Democrats are determined to fight for it. "Our strategy is to make an aggressive case with the parliamentarian," said an adviser to the Democratic Senate. Republicans have been able to incorporate work requirements for beneficiaries of welfare programs and open sanctuaries to Arctic wildlife in previous laws of reconciliation. "These were some pretty fancy guidelines that were able to pass patterns."
One thing that is not included in this bill is automatic stabilizers or tying unemployment benefit to actual unemployment situation instead of choosing a specific date to expire.
Several House committees were involved in drafting parts of the bill. The committees passed their recommendations on what to include in the House Budgets Committee, which on Monday finalized the award of the bill and wrapped it up.
This is nowhere near complete, and much can still change about what will be in the final bill in both the House and Senate. A more bipartisan deal – which would look quite different from this one – is not entirely off the table yet, although it seems unlikely at this point. And while the Senate is likely to benefit from the House bill as it came with impeachment and cabinet confirmations, they will likely make changes and additions to it, after which the legislation will then be returned to the House of Representatives.
The Senate must also consider the rules that govern what can be done through budget reconciliation. Advisors say the House and Senate committees have been in close communication about the legislation so they don't end with a bunch of ping-ponging back and forth later, though some of it will likely be inevitable. The clock is ticking and Democrats intend to provide more momentum before the unemployment insurance cliff appears on March 14th.
What is in the house's reconciliation bill so far?
From the Education and Working Committee
Money for school opening and higher education: In line with Biden's proposal, the bill provides $ 130 billion to reopen schools, allocating funds to areas like upgrading ventilation systems, reducing class sizes, and personal protective equipment to help keep schools safe and make sure the money goes to public schools. Schools must spend 20 percent of the money on learning losses, which means they strive to make up for the ground lost when students miss school. In addition, US $ 40 billion in grants are made available for higher education, and institutions that receive funding must allocate at least half of that to emergency financial aid grants for students. At non-profit universities, 100 percent of the allocations must be used for the study grant.
Childcare assistance: The proposal would allocate $ 39 billion to a grant program for childcare workers, ordering them to prioritize relief for families struggling to meet tuition fees, as well as $ 1 billion for the Head Start program.
Funding for access to health care: The bill provides subsidies for COBRA (continued health insurance when people lose their jobs) with a premium reduction of 85 percent through September and provides provisions to improve subsidies for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.
Food aid and resources for families and children: The House bill will invest an additional $ 5 billion in an existing pandemic EBT program to provide food aid to low-income families during the school year and summer, as well as additional funding for WIC, which supports women and children. It also extends the age of eligibility for the child and adult care program in homeless shelters for young adults and raises millions of dollars in programs that target child abuse, neglect and domestic violence. In addition, $ 4.5 billion is being poured into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program to help families meet the costs of heating and cooling their homes.
Means for Older Americans: The bill invests $ 1.4 billion in programs for older adults under the Older Americans Act, including nutrition programs, support services, and disease prevention programs.
A minimum wage of $ 15: The bill aims to raise the federal minimum wage to $ 15 an hour, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will increase wages for 27 million workers (some Democrats say it will raise wages for 32 million workers). There is some debate as to whether this determination can be achieved through reconciliation. The bill also provides $ 150 million to implement Covid-19-related worker protection programs for the Department of Labor.
Transport and infrastructure
Disaster Relief: The bill includes $ 50 billion to reimburse state, local, tribal, and territorial governments for their Covid-19 response costs, including vaccinations, PPE, National Guard deployment, and disinfection of public facilities.
Public transport and transportation: The bill puts $ 30 billion in local public transport, which has seen the number of drivers drop sharply at the national level during the pandemic: $ 8 billion for airports, $ 3 billion for the aerospace industry for temporary payroll assistance, and $ 1.5 billion for Amtrak for payroll and daily long-haul restoration. In addition, $ 3 billion will be allocated to the Economic Development Administration, which provides grants to economically disadvantaged communities to respond to the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
Ways and means
Unemployment insurance: The bill provides for additional weekly unemployment benefits of $ 400 from the federal government through August 29, 2021. (The surcharge is currently $ 300 and expires on March 14th.) In addition, the PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) program for self-employed and contractors and the PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) program, which provides additional weeks of government benefits up to by August 29th. This is important to note – Biden proposed extending pandemic unemployment benefits until September. The bill also sends $ 2 billion to the Department of Labor to prop up unemployment.
Stimulus checks: After much debate over who will receive stimulus checks, the house bill would pay out a benefit of $ 1,400 for those earning up to $ 75,000, with an annual income of $ 100,000 for individuals and $ 200,000 for couples. It also includes $ 1,400 for dependent children and adults, including college students and disabled adults (adult dependents have been excluded from previous stimulus payments).
Tax credits: The bill extends the child tax credit to $ 3,000 per child under 17 and $ 3,600 for children under 6 in 2021, and changes the child and dependent care tax credit to allow families up to half of their associated care costs can assert. It will also increase the tax credit for those without children, reduce the minimum age for obtaining the tax credit from 25 to 19, and nearly triple the maximum tax credit from $ 543 to $ 1,402.
Childcare support programs: The bill increases state childcare entitlement funds, which states use to fund childcare for low-income families, to over $ 3.5 billion per year, and sets the required state match for new funding for fiscal 2021 and 2022.
Pensions: This part of the bill, given top priority by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), would save multi-employer pension plans, which are pensions created by an agreement between at least two employers and one Union were created. Neal estimates that approximately 10 million Americans are in multi-employer retirement plans, and more than 1 million of them are in plans that are running out of money.
Obamacare premium subsidies. The bill increases the Affordable Care Act's premium subsidies for two years for low- and middle-income Americans or Americans who make up up to 400 percent of federal poverty. This would make healthcare through the ACA market more affordable in 2021 and 2022. The law also adjusts subsidies for people who are above 400 percent of the poverty line to ensure that no one pays more than 8.5 percent of their income for coverage.
Changes to the paycheck protection program: The bill extends the eligibility for PPP to include small businesses, non-profit organizations (with certain restrictions) and online-only news publishers (also with certain restrictions). You can have more than one physical location, but no more than 500 employees per location). In addition, an additional $ 7.25 billion will be allocated to the PPP, increasing the program level from $ 806.4 billion to $ 813.7 billion.
Funds for loans for economic disasters: The bill allocates $ 15 billion to the economic injury loan program for companies affected by the pandemic. In addition, $ 1.25 billion will be allocated to the SBA closed venue operator program that was set up in the December stimulus plan.
A restaurant revitalization fund: House Democrats are trying to allocate $ 25 billion to a new program at the Small Business Administration to help restaurants. Of this, $ 5 billion will be allocated to companies with 2019 revenue less than $ 500,000. The food service industry was particularly hard hit in the EU pandemic – The National Restaurant Association estimates the industry's losses in 2020 at 240 billion US dollars.
Energy and trade
Vaccines, Tests, and Tracking: The bill will send $ 46 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to detect, diagnose, track and monitor Covid-19. In addition, $ 7.5 billion will be allocated to the CDC to promote, monitor and track Covid-19 vaccines, $ 1 billion to the CDC to increase confidence in the vaccine, and $ 5.2 billion for HHS to support further vaccine research and manufacture. $ 500 million will go towards helping the CDC track Covid-19 hotspots and $ 750 million towards global efforts to fight Covid-19.
Money for public health workers: The bill gives HHS $ 7.6 billion to support public health workers and an additional $ 100 million to the Medical Reserve Corps, a network of volunteers to assist with emergency response.
Other public health investments: The proposal allocates $ 7.6 billion to community health centers for coronavirus-related activities and $ 1.8 billion to HHS for coronavirus testing, PPE, and vaccines for staff and people living in a community. A total of $ 25 billion will be allocated to vulnerable populations and disparities in health care and access.
Tribal Health Programs: The bill allocates $ 6 billion for tribal health programs, including funding to support the Indian health service.
Mental health and substance abuse: The bill provides $ 3.5 billion for block grant programs for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance abuse, and another million for other programs related to mental health and substance abuse.
Energy aid: The bill will send $ 4.5 billion to HHS to help low-income people with their energy and water bills.
Internet connection: The bill establishes a $ 7.6 billion emergency connectivity fund, to be passed by the FCC, to expand internet connectivity for students and teachers during the pandemic.
Defense Production Act expenditure: The bill provides $ 10 billion in Defense Manufacturing Bill spending that the federal government can use to direct inquiries to private industry in emergencies. The funds would help the president increase production of certain materials – those needed to respond to the Covid-19 crisis, including PPE, vaccines and tests.
Rental support: Democrats aim to allocate $ 25 billion in emergency aid to tenants. Namely, you would pay $ 19 billion to the Treasury Department for the allocation of rental and utility benefits to states, territories, counties and cities, and an additional $ 5 billion in vouchers for the selection of shelters for people at risk of homelessness. Domestic violence survivors, invest. and victims of human trafficking to help them find stable housing. The bill also aims to invest money for people living on USDA-subsidized land and programs to help Indians, Hawaiians, and Alaskan residents find accommodation.
Financing homelessness: The bill provides $ 5 billion in aid to help communities shelter the homeless.
Homeowner Help: The bill would direct nearly $ 10 billion to states, territories, and tribes to help homeowners on fronts like mortgage payments and property taxes.
Small Business Loans: The bill provides $ 10 billion for the state's Small Business Credit Initiative, which lawmakers said would support up to $ 100 billion in funding small businesses through state, territorial, and tribal programs. Some funds will be used specifically for minority-owned businesses, businesses owned by the economically disadvantaged, and tribal government programs.
Support for the aviation industry: The bill provides $ 15 billion for a payroll support program under the CARES Act to help airline employees. This was not part of Biden's plan.
Food supply chains and agriculture: The bill provides an additional $ 3.6 billion for the purchase and distribution of food and agricultural commodities, as well as grants and loans to farmers. In addition, disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, including those who have been discriminated against by the USDA in the past, will receive US $ 500 million in grants for rural health care and agricultural loan support. And it puts money into US-led humanitarian food aid.
Increased SNAP benefits: The bill continues to increase the benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 15 percent through September 30, 2021. Funding will also be made available for technological improvements to the program.
Funding of claims and appeals: The bill is sending $ 272 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs to try to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on veterinary benefit claims and backlogs.
Veteran medical supplies and health needs: The bill budgeted $ 13.5 billion to provide health services and assistance to veterans, including those whose care is delayed, expensive, or otherwise affected by the pandemic.
Funding for state veterans' homes: State veterans' homes are facilities that care for veterans, whether it be nursing homes, domestic help or adult day care. The bill provides funding in two ways: $ 500 million for the VA to send money to states to upgrade and improve homes, and $ 250 million for one-time emergency payments to charities.
Other VA financing: The bill provides $ 100 million to modernize the VA supply chain, $ 10 million to oversee the VA Inspector General's Office, and nearly $ 400 million to retrain veterans who are affected by Covid-19 19 have lost their jobs. In addition, the VA can waive existing copays for veterans until September 30th.
State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Funding: The bill provides a total of $ 350 billion in state, local, tribal, and territorial funding, split into 60 percent for states and 40 percent for municipalities. Nearly $ 200 billion would flow into the states and Washington, DC, with $ 25.5 billion split equally and another $ 169 billion split according to the state's share of the unemployed. At the local level, $ 130 billion would be split between cities and counties. Of that amount, $ 65 billion would go to cities using a block grant formula for community development, with $ 45 billion going to communities with more than 50,000 residents and nearly $ 10 billion to communities less than 50,000 residents would. Then $ 65 billion would flow into populations. The bill provides $ 4.5 billion for territories and $ 20 billion for tribal governments.
Funding from the state and local government has been a major sticking point for the Republicans, and if the Democrats can do that through reconciliation, they can bypass the GOP opposition.
Emergency leave for federal and postal employees: The bill provides for $ 570 million in paid emergency leave for federal and postal workers.
Supervision fee: The bill provides $ 117 million for regulators, namely the Government Accountability Office and the Pandemic Response and Accountability Committee, to oversee pandemic relief funds.
Democrats try to get big and fast
Democrats have a deadline to pass the bill as they don't want expanded unemployment insurance to dry up in mid-March. President Donald Trump waited until the very last minute to put the $ 900 billion stimulus package into effect in December. This was a huge benefit for many workers and disrupted the workings of the unemployment service in many states.
This time around, the Democrats seem determined to get the legislation implemented on time. In the Senate, this meant that Trump's impeachment proceedings, which were acquitted on February 13, were dealt with and Biden's cabinet candidates were confirmed. In a press conference with Senate Democrats on February 9, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted they could do anything. The bottom line is simple: the Senate is pushing a bold plan to get this country out of the crisis, accelerate vaccination distribution, provide a lifeline for small businesses, help schools reopen safely, and save teachers' jobs . Firefighters and other public employees and a lot more, ”he said.
How this will ultimately play out is unclear. While it appears that the White House wanted, at least initially, to try to get a bipartisan law through regular order, it seems increasingly unlikely that the 10 Senate Republicans it needs would join, and the reconciliation process is moving forward. Additionally, aware that the federal response to the Great Recession in 2009 was insufficient, Democrats and Biden seem determined to respond aggressively to the economy this time around – regardless of whether or not many Republicans are riding.
The trick, especially in the Senate, will be to ensure that the Democrats can stick together in the future, regardless of the path.
Correction, February 19th: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Democrats' estimate of how many workers would increase their income with a minimum wage of $ 15.