Senate pushes relief bill forward as US unemployment rate drops slightly

Democrats are now taking a step closer to helping the public.

Millions of Americans have struggled financially during the coronavirus pandemic, and President Biden has made it clear he is not looking to slow down aid. Last month, he released details of his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes strengthened and improved unemployment benefits for the unemployed and called for a third stimulus check worth of $ 1,400.

Republican lawmakers, unsurprisingly, rejected Biden’s proposal. But now Democrats have taken a key step in moving this $ 1.9 trillion relief plan forward, even without Republicans on-board.

Go forward

Early Friday morning, the Senate passed its budget resolution, which allows Democrats to enshrine Biden’s relief proposal into law. That means they don’t need to enter into negotiations with the Republicans to advance those $ 1,400 stimulus checks.

That said, Biden still wants to keep the lines of communication open with Republicans, and he’s said he’s open to negotiating the details of his stimulus package. Specifically, Republicans are pushing for more targeted aid and have argued that many of the people who have received stimulus money have already used it for recreation or savings. They believe that any new stimulus money that comes out should be reserved for the most needy in the country – people who will use that money for essential household expenses rather than using it to fill their savings accounts.

In fact, Republicans have called on the president to lower the income thresholds for stimulus eligibility in time for this next round. Currently, single filers earning $ 75,000 per year or less and married couples filing jointly earning $ 150,000 per year or less are entitled to a full stimulus payment. But beyond those thresholds, the stimulus money isn’t cut – it’s just taken away – and as such some fairly high-income households have been eligible for some sort of windfall when we factor in. payments for dependents. Republicans are urging Biden to, at the very least, lower the aforementioned thresholds to $ 50,000 for singles and $ 100,000 for married couples.

Meanwhile, Biden’s relief plan also includes beefed up and improved unemployment benefits. Specifically, unemployment benefits would be extended until September and would increase by $ 400 per week until then.

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the US unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in January, from 6.7% in December. Although 49,000 jobs were created in January, the unemployment rate is still well above the 3.5% threshold it was in February 2020, before the start of the pandemic. And while an unemployment rate of 6.3% is still a huge improvement from the record unemployment rate of 14.7% we saw in April 2020, it by no means means the end of our current crisis. .

Now that Democrats have the green light to switch to stimulus money, the hope is that this money, coupled with more generous unemployment benefits, will help many struggling families make ends meet or deepen their lives. current holes until the pandemic is behind us. While we don’t know exactly when these payments will start hitting bank accounts, desperate Americans can be reassured that things are moving forward.

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