House Votes To Pass $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The U.S. House of Representatives voted early Saturday morning to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan forwarded by Democrats and the Biden administration.

The American Rescue Plan was passed by a 219-212 vote, with two Democrats voting against and no Republicans voting in favor. Key provisions of the proposal include $1,400 relief checks for Americans and $350 billion for state, local, and tribal government budgets.

The relief package also features an expanded child tax credit and $130 billion to help K-12 schools reopen. While many schools across the country have already reopened in some capacity, the Biden administration has butted heads at times with teachers’ unions which want more funding and COVID-19 protections in place.

Restaurants and bars will get $25 billion in targeted aid if the bill is signed into law, providing up to $10 million per entity to help cover payroll and other expenses. $7.25 billion will go to the Paycheck Protection Program, and an additional $15 billion will go towards airlines.

Expanded federal unemployment benefits are extended in the proposal, and benefits would be increased from $300 to $400 per week. (RELATED: Big Business Endorses Biden Rescue Plan In Letter To Congress)

On the healthcare front, the package includes $46 billion to aid COVID-19 testing efforts and $14 billion to speed up vaccine distribution and administration.

The package is supported by a majority of Americans, according to polls, and the direct relief checks are particularly popular. Any individual making below $75,000 per year or household making below $150,000 per year will receive the full relief check, and those making above that amount will receive diminishing funds as their income increases.

Some have criticized the plan for not sending out full $2,000 relief checks as promised. Instead, proponents of the plan have argued that the $1,400 of relief, combined with $600 checks sent near the end of former President Donald Trump’s term, adds up to $2,000 of total relief.

President Joe Biden’s original proposal included an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, however the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the provision could not be included if the bill is going to be passed through budget reconciliation, which would allow Democrats to pass it with only 50 votes. (RELATED: Sen. Bernie Sanders Admits He Has ‘Concerns’ About $1.9 Trillion Relief Bill, But Says It Will Pass)

The proposal faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, even with Democrats attempting to pass it along party lines. All 50 Democrats would need to vote in favor if no Republicans support the plan, and Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has expressed doubts about voting for a strictly partisan relief package. (RELATED: ‘Chock Full Of Spending Porn’: Sen. Kennedy Blasts ‘Left Of Lenin, Neo-Socialist’ COVID-19 Stimulus Bill)

Critics of the package have said it includes far too much non-coronavirus related spending, ballooning the cost and jamming in progressive priorities. When Biden first introduced his proposal, he said it was too important not to pass: “The very health of our nation is at stake. [It] does not come cheaply, but failure to do so will cost us dearly.”