Where The Economic Relief Bill Stands – CBS Boston

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BOSTON (CBS) – Things usually move slowly in Washington D.C. but the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief/stimulus package proposed by President Biden is on a fast track.

It’s a fluid situation, but here’s where things stand right now on some key elements of the bill:

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DIRECT PAYMENTS

The Biden plan calls for people making up to $75,000 a year and couples earning up to $150,000 to receive $1,400 checks. The Republican counteroffer is for $1,000 checks with cutoff income levels of $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples.

Both sides have said they’re willing to negotiate but so far neither has budged. But polling shows the Biden plan has overwhelming public support, with even 40 percent of Republicans backing the higher figures.

CHILD TAX CREDITS

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The Biden bill also wants to boost the current $2,000 child tax credit to up to $3,600 depending on the age of the child, and it would for the first time reach the poorest families who earn too little to qualify. It would also be given out in the form of monthly payments instead of a once-a-year lump sum.

This also has little chance of drawing GOP support, even though there are Republicans who back the monthly payment concept. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now a senator from Utah, has offered a plan that would provide even more than the Biden proposal, but would pay for it by cutting other family assistance programs.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE

This is the most controversial piece of all, the doubling of the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next four years, which the Congressional Budget Office says would boost the earnings of 17 million Americans but could also cost 1.4 million their jobs.

This one has caused rifts within the Democratic Party and been attacked by Republicans as not relevant to pandemic recovery. The Senate parliamentarian will rule on whether or not it belongs in this bill later this week.

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Democrats have targeted March 14, when the most recent round of increased federal unemployment benefits expires, as a deadline for final passage. And while Republicans are doing their best to trash the plan as a gift basket for blue states stuffed with items long coveted by liberals, they don’t seem to be getting much traction.

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