New stimulus bill update: Every important thing happening, including a $1,400


Congress is on track to complete the latest stimulus package much faster than it did the last one.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill hit another milestone on Friday, when House Democrats posted the most recent version of its COVID-19 relief package. Though the bill isn’t final yet — in fact, top lawmakers are still soliciting suggested changes — the move is the latest confirmation that the stimulus package is on track to pass before the current unemployment benefits expire March 14. “We will meet this deadline.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday. 

Unlike with the previous COVID-19 bills, Democrats, who control the House and Senate, are speeding up the passage of a bill using a technique called budget reconciliation. That will allow them to push past Republican opposition. While Democrats cite surveys that Republican voters support a larger stimulus package, GOP leaders say the nearly $2 trillion price tag is simply too high, The New York Times reported.

The stimulus package, called the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, includes a third stimulus check, for up to $1,400. The aggressive timeline would deliver a new stimulus payment as soon as next month, right in the middle of tax season (here’s why that matters). The legislation would also potentially extend federal unemployment aid through August and fund vaccine distribution. A plan to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is in there, too, but we’ll explain why that’s complicated, as well as everything important the package could contain. This story was updated with new information.

A $1,400 third stimulus payment, with an upper income limit

Congress is settling on the $1,400 stimulus check amount. When combined with the $600 figure Congress approved at the end of 2020, this would add up to a $2,000 payment, which some people have called on for months.

Congress is also looking to target the checks at lower income earners than those who qualified for the first two payments, while keeping the income requirements the same. A hard ceiling on income, designed to exclude higher earners from getting a check, would come with a rule change for the use of dependents in the stimulus check formula. Check out our stimulus payment calculator to see how that could work for you.

The new proposal would give the IRS a deadline of Dec. 31, 2021, to finish sending the stimulus checks.

For this third round of payments, President Joe Biden is pushing to include adult dependents as well as children and families with mixed-status citizenship. Here are all the ways a third check could bring more money, or how you could get less or be disqualified altogether. Here’s what happens to your total if a check arrives during tax season.

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Stimulus check No. 3: What you need to know


What about student loan forgiveness?

Biden supports canceling $10,000 in student debt and extending the pause on student loan repayment. Earlier in the month, Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, put forward their own proposal to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt.

“I do think that, in this moment of economic pain and strain, that we should be eliminating interest on the debts that are accumulated, number one. And number two, I’m prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not $50,000,” Biden said Feb. 16. The current House bill doesn’t address student loan debt.

$400 extra in federal unemployment benefits

The weekly $300 federal unemployment checks Congress approved in December as part of the $900 billion COVID-relief legislation are set to expire in March. During his presidential campaign, Biden pushed to reform the unemployment system and said he’d work with Congress to extend the unemployment benefits that had been…

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