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

The House passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes $1,400 direct payments to residents making less than $75,000.

The fast-tracked bill, approved early Saturday on a partisan-line vote of 219-212, now heads to the Senate, which will attempt to use the reconciliation process to pass the legislation by a simple majority.

“We are on track to get this bill done and get it on the president’s desk before the expiration of the enhanced unemployment benefits, which is Mar. 14,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

The sweeping $1.9 trillion rescue package could include direct payments of as much as $5,600 for families of four.

The legislation provides direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person.

The full amount would go to individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000.

The payments, which are calculated based on either 2019 or 2020 income, would cut off individuals earning more than $100,000 and families earning more than $200,000.

Unlike previous stimulus packages, adult dependents would be eligible for the payments.

What’s not in the package is the minimum-wage increase to $15 an hour that Biden sought. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that Democrats could not use reconciliation to push that part of the legislation through.

Schumer reportedly seeks to craft a bill that would penalize corporations who don’t offer at least $15 an hour to their employees.

Meanwhile, in its current form, the bill increases the federal weekly unemployment boost to $400, from the current $300, extends the 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September, and includes $880 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly $19.1 billion would go to state and local governments for back rent, rent assistance and utilities for at-risk, low-income households with unemployed members.

States and tribes would receive an estimated $10 billion for mortgage payment assistance and other financial help to homeowners affected by the pandemic.

About $11 billion would provide rental assistance, homeless services and support, housing counseling, and mortgage support.

The bill expands the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children younger than 18, and the credit becomes fully refundable, allowing more low-income parents to take advantage of it.

The bill will also allow families to receive monthly child tax credit payments, rather than a lump sum once a year.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) championed passage of the measure in the days before the vote.

The need is great. The opportunity is there,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “The precision of this legislation to directly address the needs of the American people, the lives of the American people and the livelihoods.

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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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