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March 10, 2021

US Senate votes through $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill

By Paul Dennis

10 March

Economist and author Branko Milanovic, shared an article on the passing of the $1.9tn Covid-19 relief bill by the US Senate.

The relief package includes $1,400 cheques for middle- and lower-income households, extended unemployment insurance through the summer, and $70bn to boost vaccination distribution and Covid-19 testing.

As the current Covid unemployment benefits expire on 14 March 2021, the relief bill extended the programme through September at $300 per week.

The bill also called for non-taxable unemployment benefits for the first $10,200 of the benefits to those households earning less than $150,000.

Child tax credit for most families have also been raised by $1,000, to $3,000 per child in the coming year.

This cap is even higher for families with young children. For example, many families can now receive a credit of $3,600 for each child under the age of six.

All of these credits are expected to be fully refundable, as some researchers state that these measures could possibly help in cutting child poverty by nearly half.

The bill is also focused on supporting state and local governments, and public schools by allocating $350bn in cash towards the former, and $150bn to allow elementary, middle and high schools to reopen.

Local budgets suffered a massive blow during the coronavirus pandemic in the US.

In September, the Brookings Institute projected state and local revenues to fall by $155bn in 2020, $167bn in 2021 and $145bn in 2022 respectively.

The funding for schools will help in improving ventilation systems, hiring more janitors, and reducing class sizes to ensure social distancing.

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