Senate Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package


On a party line vote of 50-49, the Senate today passed President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The legislation differs slightly from the bill passed by the House on Feb. 26. As a result, the House will vote on the amended Senate version during the week of March 9.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate version does not include a provision to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour.

The Senate bill also narrows the eligibility for taxpayers to receive recovery rebates up to $1,400 per taxpayer. In the Senate version, individuals earning $75,000 per year and couples earning $150,000 would still receive the full $1,400-per-person benefit. However, the benefit would disappear for individuals earning more than $80,000 annually and couples earning more than $160,000.

The Senate version also amends the House legislation regarding extension of unemployment benefits. The Senate legislation would extend the existing $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 and the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits would be tax-free for households earning less than $150,000.

The House legislation would increase the weekly benefit from $300 to $400 per week through Aug. 29.

Key Provisions

We have highlighted below some of the major provisions included in the Senate bill approved today and the House legislation that passed one week ago:

  • Child Tax Credit expansion.For 2021, the Child Tax Credit will be fully refundable, and the credit will be increased to $3,000 per eligible child, or $3,600 for children under the age of six. In addition, for 2021, 17-year-old children would be eligible. House Democrats also plan to create a mechanism to advance a portion of the credit to eligible taxpayers monthly.
  • Paid medical and sick leave credits. Employers offering their employees COVID-related paid medical and sick leave would be eligible for an expanded tax credit through Sept. 30.
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit. Eligible employers would be able to claim this credit through the end of 2021.
  • Additional aid for small businesses. The legislation provides an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Existing eligibility rules remain in place for small businesses seeking to participate in the PPP, including 501(c)(6) organizations that include state and local home builders associations. The measure also provides an additional $15 billion for the targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance program.
  • $25 billion for emergency rental aid. The rental component includes the following:
    • $19 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
      • Unlike previous funds, there is no specific language mandating a portion of the funds for rental arrears.
    • $5 billion for emergency Housing Choice Vouchers.
    • $100 million for unassisted households in USDA-subsidized properties.
    • $750 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program and the Indian Community Development Block Grant program.
    • $100 million for NeighborWorks housing counseling.
  • Home owner assistance efforts. The bill includes $10 billion for home owner assistance efforts, including direct relief with mortgage payments, small 1-4 rental unit properties, property tax payments and utility costs.
  • Homelessness assistance funding. The legislation provides $5 billion for homelessness assistance funding.
  • $350 billion in state and local pandemic relief. Without federal aid, critical government services, such as planning approvals, building permits and timely inspections are at risk of being curtailed or eliminated, which would result in construction delays and increased costs to home buyers.

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