U.S. Capitol Building
The U.S. Capitol Building (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

President Joe Biden on Wednesday eagerly awaited the American Rescue Plan — his sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — not wanting to waste any time before signing it into law.

After the bill passed the Senate last weekend, the legislation went back to the U.S. House of Representatives — a formality — for final approval.

The measure again passed the House on Wednesday, and Biden said he would sign the bill on Friday, which means that many Americans could see $1,400 stimulus checks in their bank accounts as soon as next week.

“As the president said last week, once the rescue plan is signed, we’ll be able to start getting payments out this month,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

“Treasury and IRS are working tirelessly to make that happen. They are building on lessons learned from previous rounds to increase the households that will get electronic payments, which are substantially faster than checks,” Psaki added.

Part of the urgency to sign into law the robust package is the estimated 11.4 million people who faced losing their unemployment benefits if lawmakers and the president did not act quickly.

Those unemployed are scheduled to receive their final $300 federal weekly bump on March 14.

Additionally, 4 million people in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation were set to lose their benefits, based on data provided by The Century Foundation.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance counted as part of an earlier relief package.

Simultaneously, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation provided benefits to freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and other nontraditional workers.

“This is the most transformational piece of legislation that I’ve seen in all my years in Congress,” said House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“Once President Biden signs the bill into law, it will immediately become the most sweeping federal recovery package in recent history,” added Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Stimulus payments of $1,400 will go out to single tax filers making $75,000 or less. Married couples who file jointly and earn $150,000 or less will receive $2,800.

Families will also receive $1,400 per child, and adult children claimed as dependents would also receive $1,400. Unlike previous stimulus payments, single tax filers making at least $80,000 and married couples earning more than $160,000, will not receive a check.

It is also important to know that the IRS will determine eligibility based on either a 2019 or 2020 tax return. For those who have not filed their 2020 taxes, the government will use their 2019 return.

Individuals who may have lost their jobs or whose incomes decreased in 2020 should file as soon as possible. Otherwise, the IRS will use their 2019 tax return.

Like the previous stimulus, recipients will not have to pay taxes on the payments.

Those who owe child support or student debt to the federal government are protected from garnishment.

However, lawmakers did not make provisions to protect anyone from garnishment who might have private debt.

The bill allows for the first $10,200 of unemployment payments tax-free, and those who receive food stamps will see a 15 percent increase in those benefits through September.

Families whose children’s schools have remained closed are also in line to receive EBT benefits through the summer.

The legislation sends $350 billion to state and local governments, including $20 billion to help low-income households cover back rent and utility bills, and $14 billion for vaccine research, development and distribution.

It also contains a provision that allows families with minor children to claim a more considerable tax credit this year.

Those who qualify would receive a child tax credit of $3,600 for each child younger than 6.

Families will also receive $3,000 for each under age 18, up from the current credit of up to $2,000 per child younger than 17.

Food stamp recipients will receive a 15 percent increase through September, and $15 billion will go to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration.

Severely affected small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will receive priority for some of the money. Additionally, more people will qualify for higher premium subsidies through the Affordable Care Act while $8.5 billion is earmarked for rural hospitals and health care providers.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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