Biden signs stimulus package into law, direct deposits start this weekend

President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday afternoon, calling it an effort to rebuild "the backbone of this country."

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan
President Joe Biden/Instagram

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law on Thursday, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package aimed at helping American families and businesses survive the ongoing pandemic.

The legislation will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans. Direct deposits will start hitting Americans' bank accounts as soon as this weekend, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. If you have direct deposit set up with the IRS, you'll likely see your check sooner.

The plan also expands the Child Tax Credit for 2021. Families with children younger than six will receive $3,600 per child annually, while those with kids ages six through seventeen will get $3,000. The benefit is fully refundable, and for the first time, half of the credit can be received in advance of tax season. The IRS will send regular cash payments to families beginning this July.

For both the stimulus checks and the Child Tax Credit, individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples who file jointly with a combined income up to $150,000 per year are eligible to receive the full amount.

"This historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country," Biden said before the signing. "And giving people in this nation, working people, middle-class folks, the people who built this country, a fighting chance."

Thursday night, President Biden addressed the nation and directed states to make all adults eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines no later than May 1. Biden said that with continued vigilance and the vaccination of the public, American families may be able to gather together to celebrate Independence Day.

"If we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th there's a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day," the president said.

Biden also unveiled new plans to help speed up vaccinations, including the opening of a website on May 1 to help Americans find out where they can receive their shots and the opening of new federal mass vaccination sites.

"Here is the truth," Mr. Biden later said. "The only way to get our lives back, to get our economy back on track, is to beat the virus."

Here's what's in the American Rescue Plan:

Give working families a $1,400 per person check to help pay their bills

This money would be sent in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December.

Extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits

Biden wants to extend the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, as well as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, through September. Currently, they're set to expire in March.

Biden also wants to increase the federal unemployment aid to $400 a week, up from $300 a week.

Provide rental assistance and extend the eviction moratoriums

The plan offers $25 billion in rental assistance for households who have lost jobs during the pandemic. It also offers another $5 billion to help renters who are struggling to pay their utility bills.

Biden also wants to extend the federal eviction moratorium through September.

Help families struggling with food insecurity and hunger

Biden's plan would invest $3 billion in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The money will help offset the increased enrollment caused by the pandemic and help provide nutritious food to American families.

He's also calling for an extension to the 15% increase to the SNAP food stamp program through September 2021, or as long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Help for child care centers and the families who rely on them

The American Rescue Plan will create a $25 billion emergency fund to help hard-hit child care providers, including family care homes. That money can be used to pay rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as purchase PPE.

Biden also wants to add an additional $14 billion in funding to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, aimed at expanding child care assistance for families.

"This additional assistance with child care costs will help the disproportionate number of women who left the labor force to take on caregiving duties reenter the workforce," writes the President-Elect in the plan.

Increase tax credits to help cover the cost of childcare

Families will get back as a tax credit as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13 so that they can receive a total of up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be fully refundable.

The full 50 percent reimbursement will be available to families making less than $125,000 a year. Additionally, all families making between $125,000 and $400,000 will receive a partial credit.

Expanding the Child Tax Credit

Biden's plan makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, increasing the credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and make 17 year-olds qualifying children for the year.

Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit

The plan raises the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults from roughly $530 to close to $1,500, raises the income limit for the credit from about $16,000 to about $21,000, and expands the age range that is eligible.

Combat increased risk of gender-based violence

Biden's plan calls for at least $800 million in supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, creating a "shadow pandemic" for many women and girls who are largely confined to their home with their abuser and facing economic insecurity that makes escape more difficult."

Provide $130 billion to help schools reopen safely

The proposed $130 billion that would be directed to schools can be used to reduce class sizes, modify spaces for social distancing, improve ventilation, hire more custodial staff, purchase PPE, ensure every school has a nurse and more.

Provide expanded paid sick and family and medical leave

Biden's proposal would reinstate the paid sick and family leave benefits that expired last month. They would remain in effect through September.

Adults who are sick or quarantining, caring for a child whose school is closed, or caring for someone with COVID-19 symptoms, will receive 14 weeks of paid leave. The paid leave can also be used by healthy adults to go receive their COVID-19 vaccination. The federal government will reimburse employers with less than 500 employees for 100% of the cost of the leave.

Creation of a national vaccination program

Biden's plan would invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program, which would fund community vaccination centers and operate mobile units for hard-to-reach areas. This would not create a mandatory vaccination program; rather, it would simply allocate money and resources towards the millions of families who are eager to receive the vaccine.

The proposal would also invest $50 billion in testing, the purchase of rapid tests, and help schools implement regular testing.

Jamie Orsini is an Emmy Award-winning journalist, military spouse, and a mom to two busy toddlers. In her spare time, Jamie volunteers with the Solar System Ambassador program with NASA/JPL and reads anything she can get her hands on. She’s currently working on her first novel.

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