Congress approves $1.9T stimulus package

Published 3:06 pm Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A Congress riven along party lines approved a landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Democrats claimed a triumph on a bill that marshals the government’s spending might against twin pandemic and economic crises that have upended a nation.

The House gave final congressional approval to the sweeping package by a near party-line 220-211 vote precisely seven weeks after Biden entered the White House and four days after the Senate passed the bill without a single Republican vote. GOP lawmakers opposed the package as bloated, crammed with liberal policies and heedless of signs the crises are easing.

Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions to provide direct payments to most adults and extend $300 per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September. But the legislation goes far beyond that.

The $1.9 trillion bill includes up to $1,400 payments for individuals and dependents and up to $2,8oo for married couples. Individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 are eligible for the full amounts. People earning above those levels will see their payments drop incrementally before zeroing out for individuals earning $80,000 or above or couples earning $160,000 or above.

Democrats aim to have the bill on Biden’s desk before Sunday, March 14, to avoid the expiration of the current federal unemployment supplement. The president said he will sign the measure “as soon as I can get it,” adding checks will be going “out the door starting this month.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said the administration expects a large number of Americans to receive relief by the end of the month.

As with previous stimulus payments, processing will be handled by the Internal Revenue Service with the majority coming in the form of direct deposits for people who have banking information on file. The IRS will likely move quickly on the initial round, and based on previous schedules, people could start seeing money arrive within two weeks.

Paper checks and debit cards will follow. That process could possibly stretch into April or May.

The IRS has not announced a schedule on when it would begin payment distribution.