The $1.9 trillion coronavirus package passed by the Senate contains a wide range of proposals to help Americans still struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The legislation differs in at least three major ways from the bill that passed the House of Representatives last week. The final Senate package will have to be approved again by the House before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House will vote Monday night on the rule laying out terms for the bill’s consideration, and the House will vote on Tuesday on the Senate-passed version of the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he has "no doubt” Biden will sign the American Rescue Plan before the March 14 deadline.
Here's how Americans could benefit from the Senate bill:
- If your family makes less than $160,000 a year: The Senate bill would provide direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person to families earning less than $160,000 a year and individuals earning less than $80,000 a year. The payments will phase out faster than they would have under the House version of the bill, which set the income caps at $200,000 for couples and $100,000 for individuals. That means that not everyone who was eligible for a check earlier will receive one now — but for those who do qualify, the new payments will top up the $600 checks approved in December, bringing recipients to a total of $2,000 apiece.
- If you are unemployed: The jobless would receive a $300 weekly federal boost to unemployment benefits and would get those payments through September, under a last-minute change in the Senate. The deal also calls for extending two key pandemic jobless benefits programs for the same period and making the first $10,200 of unemployment payments tax-free.
- This is a significant difference from the House bill, which would provide a $400 weekly enhancement through August 29 and continue the two pandemic programs for the same period. The House bill does not contain the tax provision.
- If you are hungry: Under both the Senate and House bills, food stamp recipients would see a 15% increase in benefits continue through September, instead of having it expire at the end of June. And families whose children's schools are closed may be able to receive Pandemic-EBT benefits through the summer if their state opts to continue it.
- If you're behind on your rent or mortgage: Both bills would send roughly $20 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rent assistance and utility bills.
- If you have children: Most families with minor children could claim a larger child tax credit for 2021, under a provision contained in both the Senate and House bills. Qualifying families could receive a child tax credit of $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for each one under age 18, up from the current credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.
- If you own a small business: The bills would provide $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some of the money.
- If you're sick: If you're sick, quarantining or caring for an ill loved one or a child whose school is closed, the bills may provide your employer an incentive to offer paid sick and family leave. Unlike Biden's original proposal, the House and Senate bills would not require employers to offer the benefit. But they do continue to provide tax credits to employers who voluntarily choose to offer the benefit through October 1.
- If you need health insurance: More Americans could qualify for heftier federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies for two years, under both the Senate and House versions of the plan.
Who is out of luck? Workers being paid at or just above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour will not see a boost in pay. The Senate parliamentarian ruled in late February that increasing the hourly threshold to $15 does not meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward in the reconciliation process, which would allow Senate Democrats to pass the relief bill with a simple majority and no Republican votes.