Markets

House Passes Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package

US Capitol Building with American flag in foreground.

Image source: Getty Images

The House of Representatives met early Saturday morning and voted to approve President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The final vote was 219-212, with no Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Two Democrats crossed the aisle to vote against it.

What the bill includes

President Biden's American Rescue Plan takes dramatic steps to deal with the COVID-19 crisis from every direction. Among the items included in the bill passed earlier today are:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks, with an estimated price tag of $422 billion.
  • Weekly unemployment enhancement boosted from $300 to $400 through Aug. 29.
  • An expansion of the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 per child under age six and $3,000 per child age six and older.
  • An expansion of the Child and Dependent Tax Credit, allowing families to claim up to half of their child care expenses on their tax returns.
  • An increase of the hourly minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 to $15. (More on this below.)
  • $30 billion in emergency rental assistance.
  • $10 billion in mortgage assistance.
  • A reduction in healthcare premiums for low- and middle-income families.
  • COBRA subsidies to workers who have been laid off or had their hours reduced.

What took a hit

While the proposal passed by the House today included an increase of the hourly minimum wage to $15, the motion was all but squashed on Thursday when Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough announced that a rise in the minimum wage does not qualify for budget reconciliation. Budget reconciliation is the process under which Democrats intended to pass the president's entire stimulus package with a simple majority, rather than depending on support from their Republican colleagues.

For Democrats, the parliamentary brick wall should have come as no surprise. The proposal was divisive, even among members of their own party. While progressives pushed hard for a raise in the minimum wage, moderates worried that the issue would cause enough of a fight in the Senate to delay passage of the entire stimulus package.

What's next?

Given that the House voted along party lines, there's little reason to believe the Senate will work in a bipartisan manner. And with the Senate evenly split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, the version they pass is likely to be quite different from the bill passed in the House. What that means is intense debate, deal-making, and, likely, a compromise that leaves all parties slightly unhappy.

What you can expect

The fact that a majority of their constituents favor direct stimulus payments of at least $1,400 into their bank accounts will not be lost on lawmakers. Both direct stimulus payments and the expansion of boosted unemployment benefits are likely to make it through the Senate and into law. There also appears to be some bipartisan support for an increase in the Child Tax Credit.

If the Senate manages to pass some version of the bill by March 15, when unemployment benefits are set to expire, you can expect your third round of direct stimulus payments by the end of the first week of April.

In the meantime, if you've been hit by the financial fallout of COVID-19, visit our coronavirus hardship loan page to learn more about whether you qualify for a loan to get you through.

Top credit card wipes out interest until 2022

If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card can allow you to pay 0% interest for a whopping 18 months! That’s one reason our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. It’ll allow you to pay 0% interest on both balance transfers and new purchases until 2022, and you’ll pay no annual fee. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Latest Markets Videos

    The Motley Fool

    Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

    Learn More