On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to combat the pandemic and provide aid to the tens of millions of Americans impacted by the economic effects of the coronavirus. The plan, made viable by the new Democratic majority in the Senate, boosts many measures in the $902 billion coronavirus stimulus passed in December, a package that Biden referred to as a “down payment.”
“This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country,” Biden said shortly before signing the legislation. “And giving people in this nation, working people, middle-class folks, the people who built this country, a fighting chance.” Below is a guide to the most important pieces of the historic expansion of benefits, which includes $1 trillion in direct aid to individuals, $440 billion in aid to businesses, and $415 in efforts to combat the pandemic.
$1,400 checks for most Americans
Individuals making less than $75,000 per year will receive $1,400 direct payments, bringing the total from the second stimulus and the new measure to $2,000 — the amount promised by many Senate Democrats in the December round of negotiation. As in prior rounds, the tiers of eligibility still stand: Heads of household earning less than $112,500 and married couples filing jointly who earn less than $150,000 will also get the full sum. The White House states that those with direct deposit info registered by the Treasury Department and the IRS could receive their checks as early as the weekend of March 13.
$300 in weekly federal unemployment through September 6
The American Rescue Plan extends the $300-per-week in federal unemployment secured by the second stimulus package through September 6. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for those who have exhausted state payments and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — for the self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers — also will run through September. The law also provides a new tax waiver on the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits.
$3,000 to $3,600 in tax subsidies for parents
Per the expanded Child Tax Credit, families with children under 6 will receive up to $3,600 per child as part of the stimulus, while families with children 17-and-under will receive credits of $3,000 per child. The expansion of the law passed in 1998 — which primarily benefitted families with high income — could bring as many as 4 million children out of poverty, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
100 percent coverage of COBRA premiums
The government will pay for all premiums of Americans who have been laid off and are relying on COBRA benefits for their health-care plans. These premiums are notoriously expensive: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the typical annual cost for individuals in 2020 was $7,470 and $21,342 for families.
$34 billion for ACA subsidies
The American Rescue Plan will provide $34 billion in subsidies for Americans who have bought health-insurance plans on the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. The program will run through the end of next year.
$350 billion in aid to state and local governments
Democrats conceded direct aid to states during the negotiations for the second stimulus, but with Mitch McConnell now in the Senate minority, the incoming administration has secured the option. To help keep workers employed, distribute the vaccine, and maintain government services after losing billions in tax revenue losses, Biden has secured $350 billion to state, local, and territorial governments.
$170 billion to K-12 schools and universities
While Congress approved $82 billion in aid for schools last month, the American Rescue Plan provides an additional $170 billion to K-12 schools and universities to help with remote learning and in reopening.
$20 billion for a national vaccination program
While the vaccination effort thus far has been delegated to the states, lawmakers secured an additional $20 billion to establish a national vaccine program to help launch community vaccination centers, deploy mobile vaccination units to remote communities, and provide funding for 100,000 public-health workers to be employed in the effort.
$50 billion for COVID testing
As Americans continue to face significant waits for diagnostic coronavirus testing, the plan includes a $50 billion boost to the national testing apparatus, providing funds for rapid testing, expansions of lab capacity, and support for schools and local governments to implement regular testing.