On March 11, the White House approved the $1.9 Trillion Virus Relief Bill. 

The bill includes:

  • $1,400 checks
  • $300/week jobless benefits
  • $3B for mental health
  • $14B for Department of Veterans Affairs
  • $1,400/week in paid leave benefits
  • $3,600 for child allowance 
  • $125B for K-12 schools
  • $25B for rental assistance
  • $25B for struggling restaurants 
  • $30B for public transit
  • $14B for Covid-19 vaccinations, testing, treatment, and prevention

Stimulus check eligibility

A stimulus check of $1,400 will be sent to:

  • Individuals making $80,000 or less
  • Single parents earning $120,000 or less
  • Couples with a household income of no more than $160,000

*Residents who are married to undocumented residents will also be able ot receive stimulus payments under the new bill.

Unemployment payments & insurance

Federal unemployment payments of $300 per week will be extended until September 6, 2021. This will include a benefit of $300 per child for children under 6 years old, and $250 per child for children between the ages of 6 and 17.

An individual’s first $10,200 in unemployment benefits will also be tax-free. 

Self-employed individuals and gig workers, as well as those who have run out of jobless benefits, will also be included in this package. Individuals in this category are encouraged to reapply.

Healthcare & Paid Leave 

This plan will provide:

  • $3 billion for states to help address mental health and substance use disorders, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic
    • More than $14 billion toward increased support for the Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Paid leave benefits of $1,400/week
  • While the bill does not mandate that employers offer paid leave, it does offer tax credits for employers with less than 500 employees to reimburse them for the cost of sick time

Tax Credits & Childcare 

Tax credits for low and middle income families will be expanded and made refundable for 2021. Child tax credit will be expanded from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for children between the ages of 6 and 17 and  $3,600 for children under the age of 6. 

Individuals who make up to $200,000 and married couples filing jointly who make up to $400,000 will be able to claim the larger tax credit. 

*Households with no income are normally not allowed to claim the child tax credit. Under the new bill, they will be able to claim this credit. 

Reopening Schools 

$130 billion will be designated towards schools to allow a return to full-time, in person teaching for K-12. This money can be used for the expansion of testing, improved safety and sanitary measures, summer school, increasing transportation capacity, and more. 

Rental Assistance

The Federal Eviction and foreclosure moratorium will be extended through September, 2021. $45 Billion will be provided to assist with rent, mortgages, and utility bills for low-income households who have lost employment. This will include assistance for small landlords, home energy, and water costs. 

States and localities will be provided $5 billion to offer emergency housing for families facing homelessness. 

Small Businesses

  • $25 billion will be included to help restaurants struggling due to pandemic lockdowns and closures. 
  • $1.25 billion will be designated for venue operators. 
  • The bill will also include $15 billion in Economic Injury Disaster Loans and $7.25 billion for forgivable loans in the Paycheck Protection Program, which will allow more eligibility for nonprofits. 

Public Transit 

$30 billion has been approved for public transit to help transit agencies avoid major service cuts due to COVID-19 budget challenges. Amtrak will use at least $166 million to restore frequency on long-distance routes and recall furloughed employees. 

Covid-19 Vaccinations

$14 billion is approved for COVID-19 vaccinations, testing, treatment, and prevention. This will allow for the expansion of community vaccinations centers, including staffing, particularly in underserved areas. 

This blog post will be updated as more information about the American Rescue Plan becomes available. 

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, including those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

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