The House passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill late last week. The proposal now heads to the Senate in a race to approve the large COVID-19 relief package before certain programs end before April.
The package includes:
- $ 1,400 stimulus checks.
- $ 400 payments in federal jobless benefits.
- Funds for COVID-19 testing and vaccines.
The bill passed in a 219-212 vote — with two Democrats joining all House Republicans in opposition of the bill.
Notably, the proposal only needs a simple majority in the Senate to land on President Joe Biden’s desk. However, lawmakers can propose amendments to the bill. They can craft a modified version of the proposal.
According to U.S. President Joe Biden, as the bill moves to the United States Senate, he hopes it will receive quick action, and the country has no time to waste. He added that if they act now effectively, they can finally get ahead of this virus. Therefore economy would start moving again.
Temporary federal unemployment programs are set to end this month, leaving over million out-of-work Americans without federal financial assistance. Significantly, weekly unemployment payments were passed by Congress in March 2020, which was the first COVID-19 stimulus package. Meanwhile, the payments were later extended another 11 weeks in the relief package passed in December.
Based on The Century Foundation data, nearly 4 million workers will face a hard cliff, in which their unemployment benefits end abruptly on March 14. Moreover, approximately 7 million unemployed Americans will face a soft cliff, in which their benefits will lapse between mid-March to mid-April.
A tax incentive for employers that offer expanded paid sick will expire on March 31
Jobless benefits are not the only assistance that’s ending in the following weeks and months.
It has to be mentioned that a tax incentive for employers that offer expanded paid sick and family leave will expire on March 31 unless the bill passes by then. In 2020, Congress guaranteed many workers two weeks’ pay if they had coronavirus or were quarantining. Moreover, it also provided an extra ten weeks of paid family leave to those staying home with kids whose schools were closed. Those benefits ended in December. However, employers can still get a tax credit if they voluntarily provided the expanded paid leave through March.
Additionally, food stamp recipients receive an extra 15% in benefits through June, thanks to the relief bill passed at the end of 2020. The latest package would extend it by September.