Biden's $1.9T stimulus bill expands social safety net at unprecedented level

The bill contains billions of taxpayer dollars for the expansion of government programs related to rent, utilities, food, and taxes.

Published: March 8, 2021 5:49pm

Updated: March 9, 2021 4:55pm

President Biden and the Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, the second largest rescue package in U.S. history, expands the social safety net in the U.S. at an unprecedented level.

To start, the bill includes the largest direct stimulus payments ever provided in legislation at $1,400 per adult who filed tax returns with a Social Security number. The amount of the rebate begins to phase out for individuals earning $80,000 per year and above.

The bill also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to the largest amount on record. According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the stimulus bill increases the Child Tax Credit amount to $3,000 per child and $3,600 for children under age six. Taxpayers will have the option to receive the credit in advance through monthly payments. The bill increases the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit in 2021 from $543 to $1,502. 

The bill continues the temporary weekly federal unemployment payments provided during the pandemic. The weekly federal benefit of $300 will be paid on top of state jobless benefits. Recipients will be able to receive a tax waiver on $10,200 of unemployment payments.

The legislation also includes an $86 billion bailout for union-managed multi-employer pension plans and single employer pension plans.

"WORKERS' PENSIONS SAVED," Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown tweeted on Monday. "After years of advocacy by workers and retirees, the Senate finally passed a version of my Butch Lewis Act in the American Rescue Plan. Workers who spent their careers paying into their pensions will be able to retire with the dignity they earned."

The stimulus bill also includes $27.4 billion for rental and utility payment assistance in addition to a 15% benefit increase for food stamp recipients.

The bill extends the employee retention credit through the end of this year. It also continues providing payroll tax credits for paid sick leave as well as paid family and medical leave through September 30.

Democrats used budget reconciliation to move the bill forward, meaning it only needed 51 votes in the Senate to pass. There are 50 Democratic senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris. Sen. Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, ultimately missed the vote, so it passed 50-49. The Democratic-led House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the stimulus bill.

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