AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

$1.9 trillion stimulus relief bill: What aids and payments have been passed in House committees?

President Biden's American Rescue Plan is moving closer as a new round of stimulus checks and changes to child tax credits were approved by the Ways and Means Committee.

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$1.9 trillion stimulus relief bill: What aids and payments have been passed in House committees?

On Thursday another key part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan was passed as the Ways and Means Committee approved $940 billion of federal spending. The move comes despite strong opposition from Republican lawmakers but it is an expected step in the reconciliation process.

Included in the near-trillion dollars worth of funding was the much-anticipated round of $1,400 stimulus checks and a sizeable increase in child tax credits. The decision was passed by 25-18, with all members of the Committee voting along party lines.

The Democrats will continue to pass chunks of Biden’s flagship stimulus bill in the coming days, and have also approved a gradual boost to the federal minimum wage. On Wednesday the Education and Labor Committee passed a piece of legislation calling for the minimum wage to be raised from $7.25 to $15 over the next five years.

Stimulus checks and child tax credit boosts could be on their way

Much of the debate around Biden’s American Rescue Plan has centred on the issue of stimulus checks, which have proved to be a contentious issue. The President has maintained that his bill will provide direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person, but there have been discussions about the exact eligibility requirements.

Previous rounds of payments set the thresholds for full eligibility at $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple, and it seems that will remain the case. The only difference is that the entitlement for those earning above those amounts now phases out much more quickly.

Recent data from the Unites States Census Bureau shows that a third of American families are struggling to pay for the usual household expenses and Biden has promised to address the recent increase in childhood poverty.

To do so the child tax credit allowance will be upped to $300 a month for children under six, and $250 a month for children aged between seven and 17. This would see families given up to $3,600 a year to put towards the cost of raising a child.

This money will be distributed in the form of a monthly payment, rather than as a yearly tax credit as was the case in the past. With so many families currently living pay check to pay check it is hoped that this will provide a vital lifeline.

Why are stimulus checks and child tax credits being passed separately?

With a bipartisan agreement now looking off the table Democrats are now attempted to pass Biden’s stimulus bill using reconciliation, allowing them to approve economic policy in the Senate with just a simple majority.

 

Their actions in various committees this week were met with resistance from Republicans but as the majority Party the Democrats were able to force through the new proposals. At this stage this new legislation has not been passed into law, but have garnered approved from the Committtee.

It looks like things are going their way for now but given their slender advantage in the Senate (requiring the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to break a 50/50 split) it would only take one dissatisfied Senator to hold up the whole bill.

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