The U.S. Senate narrowly approved President Joe Biden's huge $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on March 6, bringing the proposal one step closer to becoming law.
The vote was 50-49, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The legislation was supported by every Democrat (after last-minute wrangling with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia) and was opposed by all Republicans.
Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) said in a news release that the comprehensive package will deliver urgently needed COVID-19 relief to millions across California, including direct checks for struggling families, increased testing and vaccinations, support for small businesses, and resources for schools to reopen safely and quickly.
“After over a year of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken such a devastating toll on families, small businesses and communities across our state, we are delivering another major relief package that will finally help California turn the corner,” said Padilla. “I am proud that the American Rescue Plan will deliver overdue relief to families and communities, lift millions of children out of poverty, and speed up vaccinations so we can defeat this pandemic. But our work is not done. In the weeks and months ahead, we must do more than just provide short-term relief; we must also help our state fully and equitably recover from this pandemic.”
The overwhelming majority of taxpayers would receive stimulus checks of $1,400, a provision which has helped make the bill very popular, according to polls.
The bill will now return to the House of Representatives, where Democrats are hoping that it can be quickly approved and then signed into law by Biden before unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans on March 14.
Padilla said that included in the package is funding that will directly support California COVID-19 relief and rebuilding:
----- State and Local Aid
• Supports essential government functions and critical safety net programs by allocating about $40 billion to the State of California, cities, and counties. The City of Fontana will receive millions of dollars.
• Allocates $5 billion to California colleges and universities, half of which must go to emergency financial aid to students.
----- Health Care
• Provides additional funding to address the pandemic, including billions of dollars for vaccines, testing and tracing.
• Strengthens California’s public health system by expanding the public health workforce and infrastructure, including through funding for the National Health Service Corps and community health centers.
• Supports Medicaid by expanding the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) to provide extra funding and ensures full coverage of COVID-19 vaccinations and treatment.
----- Enhances Tax Credits to Support Working Families
• Expands the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for children under 6), and makes it fully refundable and advanceable, which would benefit nearly 8 million California children and lift 553,000 California children out of poverty.
• Improves the Earned Income Tax Credit for 1.85 million California workers without children by nearly tripling the maximum credit and extending eligibility.
----- Housing and Homelessness
Addresses California’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis by allocating an additional $2.2 billion in emergency rental assistance, $1.2 billion in homeowner assistance, and $590 million in homelessness assistance funding.
----- Child Care
• Provides $3.8 billion to stabilize California’s child care sector and make child care more affordable for families.
• Helps families access high-quality child care by expanding the Child and Dependent Tax Credit to allow families to claim up to half of their child care expenses.
----- Nutrition Assistance
• Increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent through Sept. 30, providing an extra $117 million per month to support the millions of Californians that rely on this program.
• Provides $4.6 billion to ensure access to safe, reliable transit services in California.
• Helps California airports respond to the ongoing pandemic by appropriating $898 million in relief.