President Joe Biden’s sweeping $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package is the biggest bill of its kind in U.S. history.
And now that it has passed, even Democrats admit there’s “no question there’s some waste” included.
Here are some highlights of the massive bill:
UNEMPLOYMENT PAYCHECKS EXPANDED
Expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government would be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. That’s on top of what beneficiaries are getting through their state unemployment insurance program.
Additionally, the first $10,200 of jobless benefits accrued in 2020 would be non-taxable for households with incomes under $150,000.
MORE “TRUMP CHECKS”
The legislation provides a direct payment of $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Individuals earning up to $75,000 will get the full amount, as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000.
The size of the check would shrink quickly for those making slightly more, with a hard cut-off at $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for married couples.
Most Americans will be getting the full amount. The median household income was $68,703 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Payments could start going out as soon as next week.
MONEY FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS (MOSTLY DEMOCRAT CONTROLLED)
The legislation would send $350 billion to state and local governments and tribal governments for costs incurred up until the end of 2024. The bill also requires that small states get at least the amount they received under virus legislation that Congress passed last March.
Many communities have taken hits to their tax base during the pandemic, but the impact varies from state to state and from town to town.
Critics say the funding is not appropriately targeted, primarily benefits Democrat-controlled areas, and is far more than necessary with billions of dollars allocated last spring to states and communities still unspent.
MONEY FOR SCHOOLS
The bill calls for about $130 billion in additional help to schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The money would be used to modify classrooms to enhance social distancing, install ventilation systems and purchase personal protective equipment. The money could also be used to hire more nurses, counselors, and janitors, and to provide summer school.
Spending for colleges and universities would be boosted by about $40 billion, with the money used to defray an institution’s pandemic-related expenses.
There’s also about $39 billion for child care through an emergency fund to help child care providers pay for staffing, rent, and supplies, and through a block grant program that helps pay for child care for low-income families.
MORE MONEY FOR BUSINESSES
A new program for restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic would receive $28.6 billion. The grants provide up to $10 million per company with a limit of $5 million per physical location. The grants can be used to cover payroll, rent, utilities, and other operational expenses.
The bill also provides $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a tiny fraction of what was allocated in previous legislation. The bill also allows more nonprofits to apply for loans that are designed to help borrowers meet their payroll and operating costs and can potentially be forgiven.
PAYMENTS FOR PARENTS WITH KIDS
Under current law, most taxpayers can reduce their federal income tax bill by up to $2,000 per child. In a significant change, the bill would increase the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17 and $3,600 for every child under the age of 6.
The legislation also calls for the payments to be delivered monthly instead of in a lump sum, and has no work requirement. If the secretary of the Treasury determines that isn’t feasible, then the payments are to be made as frequently as possible.
Families also would get the full credit regardless of how little they make in a year, leading to criticism that the changes would serve as a disincentive to work.
The bill also significantly expands the Earned Income Tax Credit for 2021 by making it available to people without children. The credit for low and moderate-income adults would be worth $543 to $1,502, depending on income and filing status.
RENTAL AND HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE
The bill provides more than $30 billion to pay the rent for low-income people and to assist the homeless. States and tribes would receive an additional $10 billion for homeowners who are struggling with mortgage payments and other housing costs because of the pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this article