The U.S. Congress has finally passed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package which includes another stimulus check for families and individuals who meet the criteria, extended unemployment benefits, and increased funding for vaccine distribution and the reopening of schools.
After the 220-211 House vote and 50-49 Senate vote in favor of the stimulus package, President Joe Biden is scheduled to sign the legislation Friday. The stimulus package is a huge step in the right direction in alleviating some of the struggles Americans are facing as a result of the pandemic.
The last $960 billion COVID-19 relief package under the Trump Administration included targeted aid for small businesses, stimulus checks, and rental protection. While this temporary relief was helpful, it lacked a long term plan, and many of these small businesses did not receive the aid that was promised in the package, and which instead went toward larger corporations.
In comparison, the new American Rescue Plan Act is the boldest federal government response to the economic impact of the pandemic since it began a year ago. Along with the financial support to workers, small business and families, there is also additional support for health care. According to the package breakdown, $34 million has been put toward the expansion of the Affordable Care Act which is set to provide better access to health care for low income families.
Additionally, the relief bill will provide an extension of $300 weekly jobless aid supplement and monthly support payment for families with children. A whopping $7.5 billion will go toward vaccine distribution, $48 billion for testing efforts and $29 billion specifically to support the restaurant industry. There is also funding for schools to help create effective safe return plans. And the $1,400 stimulus checks will go to more Americans than those eligible in last year’s bill.
This stimulus bill is the foundation to total economic recovery and aims to help the essential workers of this nation. This legislation is far more progressive than previous proposals and can potentially be the kick start to change in health care, education and small businesses.