By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Washington, DC — President Joe Biden (recently) praised the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.
Speaking from the Roosevelt Room, President Biden said an overwhelming percentage of the American public has made it clear that they support the measure.
“I called her just a few moments ago… Speaker Pelosi, for her extraordinary leadership and all those who supported our plan,” President Biden remarked.
“And with their vote, we are one step closer to vaccinating the nation. We are one step closer to putting $1,400 in the pockets of Americans. We are one step closer to extending unemployment benefits for millions of Americans who are shortly going to lose them.
“We’re one step closer to helping millions of Americans feed their families and keep a roof over their head. We’re one step closer to getting our kids safely back in school. And we’re one step closer to getting state and local governments the money they need to prevent massive layoffs for essential workers.”
Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed the bill which includes $1,400 direct payments to residents making less than $75,000.
The fast-tracked bill now heads to the Senate, which will use the reconciliation process to pass 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 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 $15 minimum wage that President 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 percent increase in food stamp benefits through September, and it includes $880 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also 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.
Further, the bill expands the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under six and $3,000 for children under age 18, and the credit becomes fully refundable, allowing more low-income parents to take advantage of it.
President Biden and House Democrats would also allow families to receive monthly child tax credit payments, rather than a lump sum once a year.
Proponents have opined that it is the right time to go big in this stimulus package – which President Biden has dubbed “The American Rescue Plan.”
“Frankly, given the makeup of the Senate, this is our best opportunity and the right moment in the midst of this pandemic to give millions of workers a long-overdue raise,” proclaimed Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) championed passage of the measure.
“The need is great. The opportunity is there,” Pelosi declared. “The precision of this legislation to directly address the needs of the American people, the lives of the American people and the livelihoods.”
At the White House, President Biden said he hopes for swift Senate passage.
“Now the bill moves to the United States Senate where I hope it will receive quick action. We have no time to waste,” the President remarked. “If we act now — decisively, quickly and boldly — we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again.”