Written by Daniel Maloney (News Writer)
With an upcoming $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill going to the main floor of the Senate soon, many people are wondering what is in this bill, and how much they may be getting for their stimulus check. Well firstly, the checks going out to the public will be $1,400, but it is currently unclear who will be getting these. While the previous two checks had a threshold of $75,000 in income for a single person and $150,000 for a couple, President Biden has said he is willing to lower that threshold to give that money to people who need it most. This could result in an income threshold to qualify for payment to $50,000 or less for a single person and married couples with an income of $100,000, although Senators across party lines have said this is too low. But stimulus checks aren’t the only thing unveiled in the bill, as it also had $400 billion in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and increasing vaccine capabilities, and $440 billion in helping cash-poor small businesses and communities, among other things. Including the start of Biden’s push for a $15 federal minimum wage, the source of contention from many Senate Republicans.
The bill is expected to pass as soon as Friday or Saturday, but already two Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have said they are not comfortable voting to pass a bill with plans for a $15 an hour minimum wage, but the bill still has bipartisan support and will likely pass without any changes. If there were to be major changes, the removal of the $15 minimum wage would likely be first, as many Republicans have criticized the bill as too large, especially in light of a Congressional Budget Office report that showed a strong economic recovery underway even without more relief. But still, more than 7 in 10 Americans back the aid package, and many Senate Democrats are expecting the bill to pass.
One of the main and most well-known advantages of stimulus checks is that they can help the economy recover. This was true for the second round of stimulus checks, which was shown to increase retail sales by over 5%. And while many economists say a new check would help get food onto family’s tables, many people are putting the money into sayings or using it to pay off debt, which wouldn’t be helping the economy. A New York Federal Reserve survey found that 36% of the first stimulus checks went into family’s savings, 35% used to pay the debt, while only 18% was used on essential items such as food and housing. Even more, money has been predicted to go to savings rather than essential items in the new stimulus check, with a University of Pennsylvania reacher predicting almost three-quarters of the money may go into savings. But millions of Americans are suffering from income and job losses, with the number of people applying for unemployment aid rising to over 850,000, after weeks of a steady decline, meaning that a new stimulus check likely would still help millions of people who need it.
Aside from the $1,400 per person, the bill includes other notable things. One of these is up to $3,600 in child tax credit, being $3,600 per child younger than 6 and $3,000 per child up to 17. The credits would be split into monthly payments from the IRS starting in July. While the proposed credit is only for a year, some Democrats are fighting to make it permanent, which would be a massive move reshaping the fight against child poverty in the United States. But the bill also is to increase unemployment insurance by $100, bringing the weekly total to $400, which would greatly help the massive number of unemployed Americans. Additionally, Biden proposed $400 billion to boost America’s vaccine production and infrastructure, with a specific focus on increasing the number of community vaccine distribution locations. A Senior Biden administration official reiterated confidence that the goal of providing 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days would be met. Lastly, if passed, over $170 billion would go to K-12 schools to ready them for in-person instruction. These can be used to reduce class sizes, add or improve ventilation, modify space or provide additional funding for summer school to make up lost time. This means that the bill would have a large effect on all students at SLVHS, with us being able to hopefully get back to school sooner and safer.