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Regulation and Compliance > Legislation

Here's What's in the Senate's $1.9T Relief Package

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What You Need to Know

  • The House is expected to pass the bill Tuesday; Biden is expected to sign it this week.
  • More than 85% of American households will get direct payments of $1,400 per person.
  • The bill provides $350 billion for state and local government support.

The Senate $1.9 trillion version of the American Rescue Plan, which passed Saturday, includes more funds for Paycheck Protection Program loans, direct checks, lower health care premiums and money for state and local governments.

The bill was approved by a 50-49 vote Saturday afternoon and is expected to be passed by the House Tuesday and signed by President Joe Biden this week.

The Senate bill also strips out a provision from the House version of the bill that would have capped retirement plan contribution limits.

Biden said in televised remarks on Saturday just after the vote that “When we took office 45 days ago, we promised that help was on the way. Today, I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise. Help is on the way.”

Coming to agreement on the bill “wasn’t always easy, wasn’t always pretty, but it was desperately needed,” Biden stated.

“This plan will get checks out the door this month,” Biden said.

Biden stated that over 85% of American households will get direct payments of $1,400 per person.

“For a typical middle-class family of four, husband and wife working making $100,000 a year total, with two kids, they’ll get $5,600,” Biden said.

Unemployment benefits, which were lowered from $300 per week from $400 in the House bill, will be extended for 11 million Americans, Biden stated.

Raymond James analysts said in their Monday morning email briefing that they “expect the package will pass in the House without delay, even though progressive lawmakers expressed frustration at the Senate enacting stricter income limits for individual payments and scaling back unemployment support to $300/week.”

The phase-out threshold for individual payments, more restrictive under the Senate bill, is now $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for joint filers.

Although the bill extends federal unemployment payments through Sept. 5, and exempts the first $10,200 in benefits from income taxes, the Raymond James analysts continued, “additional funding provided to FEMA’s disaster relief fund could serve as a temporary backstop if unemployment support continues to be seen as necessary later this fall.”

Another “under the radar provision”: an exemption of student loan forgiveness from taxable income for four years, the Raymond James analysts said, “which may be laying the groundwork for federal student debt relief.”

Under the Senate bill, there’s also $15 billion in new funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) as grants. Nonprofits and news services are allocated $7 billion in PPP funds, while $1 billion funds a grant program for independent live venues, theatres and cultural institutions, the Raymond James analysts point out.

EIDL grants, the analysts said, “are exempt from inclusion in recipients’ gross income for tax purposes.”

Other provisions of the American Rescue Plan, according to the Raymond James analysts, include:

Expansion of Earned Income Tax Credit

Maximum EITC raised to around $1,500 for childless workers and makes eligible 19- to 24-year-old workers as well as those over 65.

Education

The bill provides $130 billon for K-12 schools and $40 billion for colleges and universities. “A provision in the bill also specifies that any student loan forgiveness implemented between 2021-2025 is exempt from the classification of canceled debt as additional income for tax purposes, potentially a key step in expanded federal student debt relief.”

Child Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

The CTC is raised to $3,000 from $2,000 for children over 6 and $3,600 for children under 6 while expanding eligibility for the credit for 17-year-olds. The credit is made fully refundable, reaching homes without reported income.

State and Local Aid

The bill provides $350 billion for state and local government support. This includes $169 billion to allocate based on each state’s total share of unemployed workers, $25 billion to split evenly among states, $120 billion to allocate to cities and counties and $10 billion for states to expand remote work infrastructure (public health education, health monitoring services) via a Capital Projects Fund.

Health Care

The bill increases subsidies for those on Affordable Care Act plans, provides for 100% coverage of COBRA premiums for those who have become unemployed, and delays the removal of the Medicaid drug rebate cap for one year. The bill also provides significant levels of funding for COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

(Photo: Bloomberg)