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Paul Zimmerman
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Senate Approves $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Bill

After a dose of suspense and a 24-hour-plus voting session that bled into the weekend, the U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to provide much-needed relief to individuals, state and local governments, small businesses, and schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill now goes back to the House of Representatives for final approval, before being sent to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature.

The legislation approved by the Senate is very close, but not identical, to the bill that made its way through the House last week, as previously reported by Michelman & Robinson, LLP. The version now making its way to the White House includes the following top-line provisions:

  1. $1,400 stimulus payments to individuals earning less than $75,000 annually and married couples making no more than $150,000 per year (from those levels, the payments phase out: individuals whose income is in excess of $80,000 and married couples who earn $160,000 get nothing);
  2. $300 per week unemployment supplements through September 6, 2021 (down from $400 in the original House bill), with the initial $10,200 of benefits tax-free for households having an annual income of less than $150,000 (the legislation that emerged from the House did not include this tax break);
  3. Child tax credit expansion, which provides qualifying families $3,000 per child ages 6 to 17 and $3,600 annually for children under 6;
  4. Another $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program; $15 billion for the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program; and $25 billion for grants to restaurants and bars;
  5. $14 billion earmarked for COVID-19 vaccine distribution along with an additional $47.8 billion for COVID testing and tracing;
  6. $350 billion in state, local, and tribal government relief;
  7. $20 billion in assistance for those seeking to cover rent payments (down from the House-approved $25 billion); and
  8. $130 billion for K-12 schools and higher education (specifically for re-opening costs and student aid).

Note that to the chagrin of Democrats, the proposed $15 federal minimum wage was scrapped from the law passed by the Senate.

Despite the razor-thin margin by which the legislation was passed in the Senate (50-49), the American Rescue Plan has overwhelming popular support. Going forward, M&R will continue to track the law and provide additional related alerts if and when issues of interest arise.

This blog post is not offered, and should not be relied on, as legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.