The Senate Just Passed Their Version of the Stimulus Bill, Here's What's Next

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On Saturday, the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package as the US continues to battle COVID-19.

Democrats in the house have set a deadline of Tuesday to approve the bill and send it to President Joe Biden. They are working to approve the bill before March 14, when unemployment programs would end. The Senate approved the package 50-49 as Republicans held their ground questioning the magnitude of the package.

The bill includes direct payments of as much as $1,400 to most Americans, a $300 weekly boost to unemployment benefits through September, funding for vaccine distribution, and funding for state and local governments.

“We will end this terrible plague and we will travel again and send our kids to school again and be together again,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said prior to the vote. “Our job right now is to help our country get from this stormy present to that hopeful future.”

The stimulus package approved by the Senate is slightly different than the one passed in the House.

These are the main changes:

  • The minimum wage hike to $15 that was included in the House version of the stimulus package was stripped after the Senate parliamentarian determined that it did not meet the standards to pass.
  • The direct payments will completely phase out for households earning more than $120,000. The House version of the bill had payments phasing out at $150,000. An estimated 12 million fewer adults will now receive a stimulus check.
  • Any student loan forgiveness passed between Dec 31, 2020 and Jan 1, 2026 will be tax free.
  • The $300 unemployment boost will be through Sept 6, lower than the House amount of $400 per week through August 29.

The approval of the bill in the Senate was stalled on Friday after Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declined to support the bill without reformation to the unemployment boost.

“This nation has suffered too much for much too long,” President Biden said.

Republican Senators were not happy with the decision. “This isn’t a pandemic rescue package. It’s a parade of left-wing pet projects that they are ramming through during a pandemic,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday.

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