President-Elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus package that includes direct payments to Americans, a $15 minimum wage, aid to small businesses, and a national vaccination program, among many other provisions.
“While Congress’s bipartisan action in December was a step in the right direction, it was only a down payment. It fell far short of the resources needed to tackle the immediate crisis,” according to the statement accompanying the details of the plan. “We are in a race against time, and absent additional government assistance, the economic and public health crises could worsen in the months ahead.”
The $1.9 trillion legislation includes $1,400 stimulus payments on top of the $600 being distributed, the extension of key unemployment programs that are set to expire in the spring, aid to small businesses, $350 billion to state and local governments, increase in tax credits for low- and middle-income families, and $160 billion for a national program on vaccination and testing.
The $2,000 direct payments would be an increase from the $600 direct payments currently being distributed, meaning eligible Americans would potentially receive an additional $1,400 (as well as an additional $1,400 for each dependent). The legislation would also expand the additional bonus for dependents from each dependent under 17 to each dependent of any age.
The extra weekly amount in unemployment benefits would be increased to $400 a week, up from the current $300 a week. Biden’s plan would also extend those benefits through September — currently, the additional benefit lapses on March 14. Under his plan, Biden would also extend the program that provides jobless benefits to workers who typically don’t qualify for regular benefits.
The plan would put in place a federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until the end of September. Biden’s proposal would also increase the child tax credit and expand the eligibility requirements for the Earned Income Tax Credit. It also would allocate billions of dollars toward food insecurity.
Biden also plans to introduce a second economic recovery plan in the coming weeks that targets creating jobs and addresses climate change.
‘A bill will have a chance to be considered on the Senate floor’
Biden’s proposal comes less than a month after the latest $900 billion deal was signed into law after months-long gridlock in negotiations. Democrats initially came to the table with their $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, while the GOP came up with a $1 trillion HEALS Act during the summer. Many of the provisions in these two proposals were trimmed or left out.
While the House previously passed two versions of the HEROES Act that never made it to the Senate floor, now that Democrats will control both chambers, they could put the legislation for a vote.
“All that seems apparent is a bill will have a chance to be considered on the Senate floor,” Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown's Government Affairs Institute, told Yahoo Money. “I am hopeful that all senators will weigh the economic situation at that time and cast their votes accordingly rather than supporting or opposing because of their party label.”