In an effort to deliver financial relief to struggling families and ramp up vaccination distribution across the country, House Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan early Saturday morning.
The bill, which largely tracks the economic plan President Joe Biden unveiled in January, includes funding for vaccine production and distribution, another round of stimulus payments for many households, an extension of federal unemployment benefits and more. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it "transformative" during debate on the floor Friday night.
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"The American people need to know that their government is there for them, and as President Biden has said, help is on the way," Pelosi said.
No Republicans voted for the bill. Conservatives largely object to the bill's size and the inclusion of provisions which they say are unrelated to the pandemic.
"Democrats are so embarrassed by all the non-covid waste in this bill that they are jamming it through in the dead of night," said House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy during the debate.
The bill will now head to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, albeit with some potential changes. Here's the breakdown of some of the major provisions in the House's version.
In one of the more ambitious provisions, the bill institutes a fully refundable child tax credit for 2021, increasing the amount from $2,000 to $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and to $3,600 for children under the age of 6.
These payments begin to phase out for individuals earning more than $75,000 a year or married couples earning more than $150,000.
Because they are fully refundable, eligible households would qualify for the credit no matter how little income they earn each year. Those households would receive a check from the IRS.
The bill includes $30 billion in emergency rental assistance and an additional $5 billion to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks among homeless populations. Another $10 billion is earmarked for mortgage assistance. The bill does not directly extend the nationwide eviction moratorium, which is currently slated to expire at the end of March.
The stimulus bill passed in late December also included $25 billion in emergency rental relief.
One of the most controversial provisions in the drafting of the bill, a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour by 2025, was included in the House's bill — but it likely won't make it into the final law.
The Senate parliamentarian, a nonpartisan official who decides which bills qualify to pass the upper chamber via reconciliation, determined Thursday that the minimum wage hike did not meet the standards legislation must meet so that it can be passed with a simple majority. Pelosi promised that Congress would address the minimum wage soon.
"The $7.25 minimum wage that exists now is in many instances an exploitation of the American worker," Pelosi said. "And it is a cost to taxpayers because the minimum wage workers need food and housing assistance."
The bill provides funding for a third economic impact payment, worth up to $1,400 per individual and dependent.
This time around, individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000 (and married couples earning up to $150,000) will receive $1,400 each, plus $1,400 for each dependent. Unlike previous stimulus payments, adult dependents qualify for this round. That means many college students, disabled adults and elderly Americans will receive a check for the first time.
The payments phase out gradually, hitting $0 for individuals earning an AGI over $100,000 per year and couples earning over $200,000 per year. The payments are based on either 2019 or 2020 income, depending on when a taxpayer files their 2020 tax return.
Coupled with the $600 payments disbursed in January, this is meant to fulfill Biden's promise of $2,000 stimulus payments. Some critics disagree that this fulfills the promise, arguing the federal government should send $2,000 payments in addition to January's $600 check.
The bill also extends key unemployment programs past their current March 14 expiration date through August 29. That is one month shorter than Biden proposed in his original plan.
In addition to extending benefits for gig workers and others who didn't qualify for benefits before the pandemic, it also boosts the enhanced federal payments from an extra $300 per week to $400.
The bill allocates $20 billion to create a national Covid-19 vaccination program, and an additional $50 billion for virus testing. The program is intended to help set up community vaccination sites across the country and eliminate vaccine shortages.
Finally, the American Rescue Plan also provides funding for schools, restaurants and bars, state and local aid, vaccine production and distribution and paid leave, among other provisions.
Now, the Senate will likely pass a different version of the bill. The House will then have to sign off on the new version. Democrats hope to have Biden sign the legislation by March 14, when many federal unemployment provisions expire.
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