WASHINGTON – The $ 1.9 trillion economic stimulus package approved by the Senate on Saturday outlines the broad pandemic aid package proposed by President Joe Biden, but senators have made a series of notable changes that cut the bill.
While the House passed a version of the bill that largely kept Biden’s proposals intact, the Senate omitted a minimum wage hike it had included, reduced eligibility for the next round of stimulus checks and limited the amount Americans will receive in additional unemployment. benefits in the coming months.
Changes made by the Senate are likely to stand, as the version passed by the chamber is due to be submitted to the House for final approval on Tuesday. Bill would then go to Biden for his signature.
Here are some of the main differences between bills from both houses.
The increase in the minimum wage has been abandoned.
The House bill would gradually increase the federal minimum wage, which is currently $ 7.25 an hour, to $ 15 an hour by 2025. The Senate bill does not include an increase salary.
The Senate parliamentarian said last month that the salary increase violated strict rules governing what can be included in bills passed through a special process known as budget reconciliation, which has urged Democrats to remove it from the package.
Democrats used the reconciliation process because it allowed the bill to pass the Senate with only a simple majority, shielding it from obstruction – which requires 60 votes to break – and thereby eliminating the need to win. support from Republicans.
On Friday, an amendment to add the increase in the minimum wage was well below the 60 votes needed to do so, failing at 42-58 in a procedural vote. Seven Democrats and an independent who met with them joined the 50 opposition Republicans, signaling that the salary increase lacked sufficient support to clear the Senate, regardless of the parliamentarian’s decision.
Stimulus checks will be available for fewer Americans.
The House and Senate bills would provide another round of direct payments to Americans, with payments of up to $ 1,400 to hundreds of millions of people. But the Senate bill places tighter income limits on eligible people, preventing millions from receiving payment.
Both bills would provide payments of $ 1,400 to people earning up to $ 75,000, single parents earning up to $ 112,500, and married couples with incomes of up to $ 150,000. Progressively lower payments would go to those who earn more, decreasing as income levels rise and eliminating completely for those above a certain income limit.
But while the House set the cap at $ 100,000 for individuals, $ 150,000 for single parents and $ 200,000 for couples, the Senate lowered them to appease moderates who wanted the payments to be more targeted.
Instead, the Senate bill would set the cap at $ 80,000 for individuals, $ 120,000 for single parents and $ 160,000 for couples, meaning those who earn more than that will not receive. checks.
Unemployment benefits would remain at $ 300 per week instead of increasing to $ 400.
The latest stimulus package passed in December partially reinstated a federal unemployment benefit that expired last summer, offering $ 300 a week and extending it until March 14. The House bill increased the allowance in line with Biden’s proposal, but the Senate, where moderates were reluctant to increase the payment, did not change.
The House version would offer a more generous benefit of $ 400 per week until August 29. The Senate measure would provide $ 300 per week until September 6.
The Senate bill would also exempt $ 10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020 from federal income tax for households earning less than $ 150,000.
The House and Senate have also sought to help workers who have lost their jobs retain their employer-provided health insurance coverage, but the Senate bill is more generous. The House measure would cover 85% of premiums through a program called COBRA until September, while the Senate measure would cover the full cost of those premiums.
A railway project, a student loan debt and more.
The two bills differ in a variety of other areas. The Senate added a provision that would exempt student loan cancellation from income tax until 2025, a step that comes amid pressure on Biden to write off student loan debt through executive action.
Funding for a rail project in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, which has been criticized by Republicans, was included in the House bill but was withdrawn from Senate measure after the parliamentarian stood down. pronounced against.
Another transportation-related allowance in the House bill that drew criticism from Republicans, $ 1.5 million for the International Seaway Bridge between upstate New York and Canada, was also removed from the Senate version.