Congress sends $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package to Biden's desk

The House votes to approve the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which includes up to $1,400 checks for some Americans and extends pandemic unemployment benefits, in the final legislative step before the it goes to the White House for President Joe Biden's signature.

Posted: Mar 10, 2021 4:25 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2021 4:28 PM


The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, paving the way for President Joe Biden to sign his top legislative priority into law later this week and deliver aid to most American households amid the pandemic.

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.

House Democrats passed the legislation on party-line vote of 220-211. No Republicans voted in favor. One Democrat voted against the bill: Rep. Jared Golden of Maine. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden plans to sign the bill Friday at the White House.

Key features of the plan include up to $1,400-per-person stimulus payments that will send money to about 90% of households, a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits, an expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child and $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.

In addition, the far-reaching legislation extends a 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September, helps low-income households cover rent, makes federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous and provides $8.5 billion to rural hospitals and health care providers.

Democrats say that more government action is needed to shore up the economy, aid in the recovery and deliver relief to Americans who continue to be hurt by the pandemic.

Republicans, however, have criticized the plan as a partisan wish list of liberal agenda items that is not sufficiently targeted, and have so far put up a united front in opposition.

The economic recovery looks to be on more solid footing than it was just a few months ago, with more jobs added in February than economists had expected, though America is still down 9.5 million jobs from February last year.

How the Senate revised the legislation ahead of final passage

The legislation won final approval in the House after the Senate made a series of revisions to the bill and passed it over the weekend.

Notable changes made by the Senate include narrowing eligibility for stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to jobless benefits and eliminating an increase in the federal minimum wage. The House had previously passed the bill, including the wage hike, at the end of February.

The checks will phase out faster than in previous rounds, completely cutting off individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000 -- regardless of how many children they have. The revisions made by the Senate will leave out about 7 million families, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

But the Senate kept the income thresholds the same for who gets the full payments: individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000 will receive $1,400 per person, including children.

On unemployment benefits, the Senate changed the legislation to provide a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless payments and extend two key pandemic unemployment benefits programs through September 6. The first $10,200 worth of benefits will be tax-free for households with annual incomes of less than $150,000. That marked a significant change from the earlier-passed House bill, which would have provided a $400 weekly enhancement through August 29.

Finally, the minimum wage hike was removed by the Senate after the parliamentarian, a little known but powerful official, ruled it out of bounds under the reconciliation process that Democrats used to advance the legislation in the chamber with only a simple majority and no Republican support.

Democrats race the clock to pass relief

Democrats raced the clock in an effort to get the legislation to the President's desk as quickly as possible.

An estimated 11.4 million workers will lose their unemployment benefits between mid-March and mid-April unless Congress passes its next coronavirus relief package quickly, a recent study by The Century Foundation found.

Action on the bill was briefly stalled Wednesday morning when Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia called for a motion to adjourn, a move she has repeatedly used to disrupt the floor schedule and that has frustrated even members of her own party.

The vote on the motion to adjourn failed by a tally of 149 to 235 with a significant number of Republicans voting in opposition, the largest number of Republicans to vote against Greene's motion to adjourn since the Georgia freshman started pulling the move.

Biden told reporters Monday that he will sign the relief package as soon as it lands on his desk. "As soon as I get it," the President said when asked when he would be signing the bill.

The final vote in the House on Wednesday came after a marathon session of amendment votes in the Senate last week that featured an all-night "vote-a-rama" and a 12-hour struggle to get one Democrat to support the party's plan on a critical issue.

Sen. Joe Manchin's unexpected opposition last Friday to a Democratic deal on unemployment benefits ground action in the Senate to a halt for hours and prompted a furious lobbying effort with both parties trying to win over the West Virginia Democrat.

Democrats kept a Senate roll call vote open for 11 hours and 50 minutes, the longest in recent history, in an effort to resolve the situation, a sign of the centrist Democrat's power in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats control the narrowest possible majority, and an example of how a single senator can derail the President's agenda.

Manchin finally agreed to extend $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September 6, and the Senate passed the revised legislation on Saturday.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 787421

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1114521765
Mobile708161234
Madison49744633
Baldwin36201495
Shelby36186315
Tuscaloosa33818548
Montgomery33135678
Lee22590220
Calhoun21140410
Morgan19795335
Etowah19188462
Marshall17659274
Houston16788386
St. Clair15408305
Cullman14568258
Limestone14553188
Elmore14444264
Lauderdale13486281
Talladega12932236
DeKalb12174237
Walker10561330
Blount9693157
Autauga9652137
Jackson9363158
Coffee8847175
Dale8584173
Colbert8508184
Tallapoosa6661181
Escambia6585121
Covington6432167
Chilton6372144
Russell605355
Franklin5779101
Chambers5398134
Marion4789120
Dallas4694189
Clarke462279
Pike461597
Geneva4396117
Winston425295
Lawrence4112108
Bibb408581
Barbour346570
Marengo326285
Butler318190
Monroe318153
Randolph305256
Pickens304474
Henry301358
Hale292285
Cherokee289455
Fayette279073
Washington245248
Crenshaw237970
Cleburne235251
Clay228365
Macon219258
Lamar196243
Conecuh181846
Lowndes170758
Coosa169935
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136437
Sumter124436
Greene121243
Choctaw73427
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