Congress passes Biden's Covid-19 stimulus bill

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 8:24 PM ET, Wed March 10, 2021
29 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
3:04 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Airlines say new stimulus "happily canceled" thousands of furloughs

From CNN's Pete Muntean and Greg Wallace

Travelers walk through in Salt Lake City International Airport, Tuesday, March 9, in Salt Lake City.
Travelers walk through in Salt Lake City International Airport, Tuesday, March 9, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer/AP

Airlines are applauding the house passage of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, which is expected to save 27,000 airline workers from furloughs that were slated to start in just weeks.

In January, United Airlines sent warnings of possible April 1 furloughs to 14,000 employees. A week later, American Airlines told 13,000 employees that they would be furloughed without more federal help. The bill provides a second extension of the Payroll Support Program, which airlines and unions call critical to keeping workers on the job.

“For our 13,000 colleagues who received Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notices last month, those are happily canceled – you can tear them up,” American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a Wednesday letter to employees.

President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law Friday, according to the White House.

American Airlines says once that happens, its workers will receive pay and benefits through Sept. 30, 2021. 

“Congress has saved thousands of airline jobs, preserved the livelihoods of our hard-working team members and helped position the industry to play a central role in the nation’s recovery from COVID-19,” an American Airlines statement said.

In a statement, Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants said the bill will keep aviation workers receiving paychecks and healthcare through September “so we’re in place to meet demand as vaccinations are readily available and travel returns to the skies.”

2:59 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

White House Covid-19 senior adviser says $1.9 trillion bill brings “sigh of relief”

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Just moments after the House passed the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill on Wednesday, White House Covid-19 senior adviser Andy Slavitt said that the legislation will help the nation through the next stages of the pandemic.

"When this gets to the President's desk and it is signed, it is really going to be monumental in terms of allowing Americans to breathe a big sigh of relief," Slavitt told MSNBC's Katy Tur on Wednesday. 

President Joe Biden plans to sign the bill into law on Friday afternoon at the White House.

"Not that Covid-19 is over, but we will now have the resources to support Americans through the next stages," Slavitt said.

When asked whether he suspects the United States will need another relief bill before the end of the pandemic, Slavitt said he couldn't "predict the future" and the pandemic has had "plenty of surprises."

2:46 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Here is what is in the Covid-19 relief bill that is heading to the President's desk

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a $1.9 trillion Covid relief plan, a top legislative priority for President Biden. The President is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.

Much of the legislation mirrors the plan laid out by Biden in January. But lawmakers did make three notable changes – narrowing eligibility for the stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to unemployment benefits and nixing an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Here's what is in the bill:

  • Stimulus checks: The bill provides direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person. Families get an additional $1,400 per child. There are restrictions based on how much you make. You can use this stimulus calculator to find out how much money you can expect to get.
  • Unemployment assistance: The bill calls for a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless payments and extending two key pandemic unemployment benefits programs through September 6.
  • State and local aid: The legislation provides $350 billion to states, local governments, territories and tribes.
  • Nutrition assistance: The package extends the 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September. It also contains $880 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. It will allow states to continue the Pandemic-EBT.
  • Housing aid: The bill sends roughly $20 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rent assistance and utility bills. It authorizes about $10 billion to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, utilities and property taxes.
  • Tax credits: The bill expands the child tax credit to $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for each child under age 18. Currently, families can receive a credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.
  • Paid sick and family leave: While the bill does not make this mandatory, it will continue to provide tax credits to employers who voluntarily choose to offer the benefit through October 1.
  • Education and child care: The bill provides $125 billion to public K-12 schools to help students return to the classroom, including for things like ventilation, personal protective equipment for teachers and support staff.
  • Health insurance subsidies: The package will make federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous and would eliminate the maximum income cap for two years.
  • Small businesses: The bill provides $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program and another $7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. It also provides $25 billion for a new grant program specifically for bars and restaurants.
  • Vaccines: $14 billion will go towards researching, developing, distributing, administering and strengthening confidence in vaccines. It will also put $47.8 billion toward things like testing and contact tracing.
  • Rural hospitals: The bill allocates $8.5 billion to help struggling rural hospitals and health care providers.

Read a more detailed breakdown here.

3:30 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Biden praises passage of Covid-19 relief bill

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Maegan Vazquez

President Biden praised the passage of the American Rescue Plan moments after it passed the House on Wednesday and vowed to sign it on Friday.

“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance,” Biden said in a statement.

“On Friday, I look forward to signing the American Rescue Plan into law at the White House – a people’s law at the people’s house," Biden said.

The President thanked "all the members who voted for it, especially Speaker Pelosi, the finest and most capable speaker in the history of our nation."

Biden's signature will not appear on the stimulus checks slated to be sent to Americans as part of the relief package, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

Physical stimulus checks sent to American households last year included a note on the bottom left with then-President Trump's name. Individuals receiving electronic stimulus payments also received a letter signed by the President.

Psaki said during Tuesday's White House press briefing that Biden didn't think the inclusion of his signature on the payments "was a priority or a necessary step. His focus was on getting them out as quickly as possible."

4:26 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Use our calculator to see how much your stimulus check could be

From CNN's Katie Lobosco and Sean O'Key

A third round of stimulus payments is expected to be on the way later this month.

The payments are included in the sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid relief package that was approved in the House today. The checks are worth up to $1,400 per person, including dependents.

So a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.

The income thresholds will be based on a taxpayer's most recent return. If they've already filed a 2020 return by the time the payment is sent, the IRS will base eligibility on their 2020 adjusted gross income. If not, it will be based on the 2019 return or the information submitted through an online portal set up last year for people who don't usually file tax returns.

Use our calculator below to see what you can expect to get:

2:40 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Congress just passed Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan. Here's what happens next.

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ryan Nobles, Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

House TV
House TV

The House just voted to approve the Covid-19 relief bill, paving the way for President Biden to sign his top legislative priority into law.

House Democrats passed the legislation on a party line vote of 220-211. No Republicans voted in favor. One Democrat voted against the bill: Rep. Jared Golden of Maine.

White te House press secretary Jen Psaki said today that Biden will sign the bill on Friday afternoon at the White House.

Passage of the bill marks the first major legislative achievement of the new administration and a Congress that is now under full Democratic control, with narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

Key features of the package include:

  • Up to $1,400-per-person stimulus payments that will send money to about 90% of households (Use our calculator to see if you'll qualify for a stimulus check.)
  • $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits
  • An expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child
  • $350 billion in state and local aid, as well as 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.
  • Extends a 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September
  • Helps low-income households cover rent

What happens next: Psaki said, “The bill text will be rechecked, printed, and signed by the appropriate leaders in the House and Senate." The House clerks will then deliver the bill to the White House for the President's signature.

After Biden signs the bill, the turnaround time — between it being a more than 600-page bill and money in people's pockets — could be relatively quick.

People could start seeing the $1,400 stimulus payments hit their bank accounts within days of Biden signing the bill.

The payments do not all go out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS would likely get the money first, because it would be directly deposited into their accounts. Others may receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the ma

Watch Gloria Borger's analysis below:

1:58 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Biden to appoint someone to lead implementation of American Rescue Plan

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden plans to appoint someone to lead the implementation of his coronavirus relief legislation, similar to the role he played in 2009. 

“We are also looking ahead to implementation,” Psaki said during Wednesday’s news briefing, telling reporters about Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s recent speech on aid to state and local governments. “They are looking for ways to maximize, of course, the impact of every dollar.”

As the House takes a final vote on the package right now, Psaki said the President knows that the passage and signing of the bill is just the beginning.

“That’s exactly what the President did when he served as the point person on the implementation of the (American) Recovery (and Reinvestment) Act in 2009, partnering with mayors, governors and other officials to get help to them quickly and a way to get waste, fraud and abuse to two tenths of 1%,” she said.

“I don’t have any personnel announcements today but that will certainly be part of our path moving forward,” Psaki added.

2:17 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Democrat from Maine votes against Covid relief bill 

From CNN's Ryan Nobles 

Rep. Jared Golden is seen during a hearing in the Rayburn Building on March 6, 2019.
Rep. Jared Golden is seen during a hearing in the Rayburn Building on March 6, 2019. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Rep. Jared Golden of Maine is the first and likely only Democrat to vote "no" on the Covid-19 relief package. This was expected.

Golden released a statement on his decision:

"While the Senate made modest changes to the legislation, some of those changes undermined parts of the bill I do support, and others were insufficient to address my concerns with the overall size and scope of the bill. Although I support the Senate’s effort to reduce the number of wealthier households that will receive stimulus checks, they did not go far enough, and other changes — like removing the minimum wage increase or providing a lower unemployment benefit — undermined policies that I support. I voted for a $15 minimum wage in the last Congress, and given the opportunity, I intend to do so again"

He continued: "I know there are people who will continue to need assistance getting through the final stages of this pandemic, which is why I have argued that Congress should have addressed their needs with a targeted bill that extends unemployment benefits, funds vaccine distribution, and increases investments in our public health infrastructure."  

2:06 p.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Biden plans to sign the Covid-19 relief bill into law Friday afternoon at the White House

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 8.
President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 8. Patrick Semansky/AP

President Biden will sign the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, his first major legislative victory, into law on Friday at the White House.

The House is currently voting on the package, where it is expected to be approved.

“The President will sign the bill at the White House on Friday afternoon,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. 

Once passed by the House, Psaki said, “The bill text will be rechecked, printed, and signed by the appropriate leaders in the House and Senate. The House clerks will then deliver it to the White House for the President’s signature,” with that delivery expected “sometime tomorrow.”

The administration, Psaki noted, is “moving full speed ahead on the implementation bill,” citing urgency for the American people.