On Wednesday, March 10, in the final vote, the House passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, a win for Americans young and old. To be signed by President Biden on Friday, March 12, key features of this bill include: $1,400-per-person stimulus payments that will send money to about 90% of American households; an extension of the $300 weekly federal unemployment payments; an expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child; $350 billion for state, local and tribal governments; and billions of dollars for K-12 schools to help students return to the classroom, to assist small businesses hard-hit by the pandemic and for vaccine research, development and distribution. In addition, this massive piece of legislation extends a 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September, provides $45 billion in rental, utility and mortgage assistance, makes federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous and provides $8.5 billion to rural hospitals and health care providers.
This COVID relief will provide immediate assistance to millions of Americans in need. And, it will help strengthen the efforts in place to end the pandemic. In particular, it provides $14 billion for vaccine distribution and $48 billion for testing and contact tracing. It gives close to $8 billion for state and local public health departments to help them strengthen their public health work force and infrastructure in an effort to prevent flare-ups of the virus and keep this situation from happening again. Community health centers that serve mostly people with low incomes and no insurance will receive $8 billion, and nursing homes will receive $200 million to keep infection out of those facilities.
As President Biden said, “This bill represents a historic, historic victory for the American people.”