March 9, 2021
$1.9T stimulus proposal: Biden pushes for a third check, $400 unemployment money, more

$1.9T stimulus proposal: Biden pushes for a third check, $400 unemployment money, more


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The Biden administration plant to hit the ground running on COVID-19 relief and economic recovery.


Sarah Tew/CNET

With President Joe Biden now officially in the White House, Washington can start to turn its attention from the second stimulus check to a third round of payments as part of a $1.9 trillion proposal to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic

In his American Rescue Plan, Biden is proposing a third round of stimulus checks, funding for a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort and more. Not waiting for Congress to act, on his first day in office, Biden signed a collection of executive orders shortly after being sworn in.

Working to win Congressional support for a larger proposal is a key goal for his administration: Biden has repeatedly referred to December’s bill — and the $600 stimulus checks that came with it — as a “down payment” on more aid this year. However, it will be up to the new Congress to negotiate, craft and ultimately pass Biden’s relief package, or a version of it. Here’s what Biden wants.

A $1,400 third stimulus payment, not $2,000

The IRS has hit the deadline on Jan. 15 to make the second round of payments of $600 to eligible Americans that Congress approved at the end of 2020. But after signing off on the $600 payment, some in Congress, along with President Donald Trump, immediately pushed to bump the payments to $2,000. While that effort failed, Biden plans to make up the amount with a third stimulus check that is part of his economic rescue package. 

This third check would be for a maximum of $1,400, completing the $2,000 amount when added to the $600 figure. (Here are all the ways a third check could bring more money.) Unlike the two preceding payments, this third round will include eligible adult dependents, not just children under 17.

Biden could find opposition for another round of payments, however. Some in Congress, including Democratic Sen. Joe Machin, have said the stimulus checks should be targeted to those most in need. “It’s time now to target where the money goes,” Manchin said on CNN’s State of the Union on Jan. 10.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, however, said $1,400 isn’t enough. “$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400,″ she told the Washington Post Jan. 14.


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$400 extra in additional federal unemployment benefits

The weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-relief legislation are set to expire in March. During his presidential campaign, Biden pushed to reform the unemployment system and said he would work with Congress to extend the unemployment benefits that had been authorized under last year’s CARES Act and renewed in December, “for however long this crisis lasts.”

Biden’s plan would send $400 federal unemployment payments through September with triggers that would extend the benefits after September for those who continue to be out of work and include automatic payment adjustments linked to health and economic conditions.

Vaccine delivery across the nation

While over 30 million doses have so far been distributed in the US, that is far behind the 100 million doses President Donald Trump promised to distribute by the end of 2020. Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccine jabs in the first 100 days of his administration.

Biden’s plan will set aside $400 billion for a nationwide vaccine program. “I will immediately move for the most urgent need of asking the Congress to give me the financial wherewithal to deal with the virus,” Biden said Jan. 8. “I’m committed to getting100 million shots in people’s arms in the first 100 days.”

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Democrats will push to extend and increase federal unemployment aid back to $600 extra per week.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Expanding the child tax credit to bring people more money

In his plan, Biden proposes expanding the child tax credit that currently allows families to claim up to a $2,000 credit for children under age 17. If approved, the plan would extend the benefit to lower-income families who would otherwise not receive the credit. Under Biden’s plan, families could claim up to $3,600 per year for one young child and up to $3,000 per year for an older child.

The plan would also expand child care tax credits for one year to help cover the cost of child care. Under Biden’s plan, families could get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13, up to to $4,000 for a single child and $8,000 for two or more children.

“The Biden plan is the most impressive and ambitious child poverty plan ever in the United States,” tweeted economist Jason Furman, a former adviser in the Barack Obama administration. “This would not just help in the short run but have long-run mobility benefits as well.”

A $15 minimum wage per hour for employees

Biden’s plan will push for a rise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour. “It is time to raise the minimum wage,” Biden said Jan. 8. “No one, no one should work as millions are doing today, 40 hours a week at a job, and still live below the poverty line. They are entitled to at least $15 minimum wage per hour.”

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Biden has asked Congress to forgive student debt up to $10,000.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Funding to reopen schools amid COVID-19

A critical piece of the economic recovery is getting students back on campus. “We are also going to need tens of millions of dollars to help reopen our schools and open them safely,” Biden said last week. The Biden plan would work to return students to schools by having a majority of kindergarten-to-8th grade classrooms safely reopen in the first 100 days of the administration.

Funding earmarked for state, local and tribal governments

Along with expanding liability protections pushed by Republicans, Democratic support of funding for state, local and tribal governments was a major roadblock to reaching an agreement on a new economic assistance package through the second half of last year. With Democrats soon to be in control of the House, Senate and White House, Biden has pledged support for state and local funding as part of his administration’s relief package. 

Since the fall, economists have pushed for Congress to provide funding for state and local public jobs: “The case for additional aid is strong because the downside risk of doing nothing is quite real,” wrote the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, at the end of last year. “The fact that over 1 million state and local government workers have lost their jobs is a sign that fiscal distress has had real consequences.”

On Jan. 8, Biden again expressed concern that state and local governments are “slashing jobs” as a result of the pandemic and pledged to provide “immediate relief.”

In addition to state and local funding, Biden’s plan would provide funds for food and water assistance and food stamps.

Extend the eviction ban through September

On Jan. 20, Biden was expected to sign an executive order extending the ban through March, which means it may not be part of the final new stimulus bill at all. Biden’s plan would extend the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums until Sept. 30. The plan would provide $30 billion in rental assistance for renters and small landlords, especially for low- and moderate-income households. 

What about student loan forgiveness?

On Jan. 8, Biden administration officials said the incoming president would ask Congress to cancel $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers and extend the pause on student loan repayment, CNBC reported. Biden’s stimulus plan doesn’t appear to tackle student loan forgiveness.

We’ll continue to update this story as Biden reveals more details on his plans. For more information about stimulus money, here are op facts you need to know about stimulus checks, and here’s what you need to know about the federal unemployment assistance.





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