CHARLOTTE SHAO (Copy Editor)
On Mar. 11, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The plan is meant to help put money back into the economy and give more funding for vaccines, testing and school reopenings. According to NBC News, millions of Americans will get a $1,400 check, a weekly $300 unemployed check and a child tax credit over the coming weeks. Some people have already received their checks. It is Biden’s first legislative achievement since his inauguration.
Biden also made a speech from the White House after signing in the bill, reflecting upon the impact the coronavirus has had on the nation. Over 500 million have died in the U.S., and millions have lost their jobs. Biden also spoke about what would come next.
“All adult Americans will be eligible to get a vaccine no later than May 1., Biden said. “If we all do this… by July the fourth, there’s a good chance that you, your families and friends, will be able to get together… and celebrate Independence Day.”
The bill gives $1,400 to Americans making up to $75,000 annually, according to NBC, and $2,800 to married couples making under $150,000. Individuals who make up to $80,000 and joint filers up to $160,000 will also receive some money, but not the full amount. The direct relief includes $1,400 per dependent, including adult dependents. NBC also stated that $14 billion will go to vaccine distribution and $49 billion to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and personal protection equipment. K-12 schools will receive $125 billion, and $40 billion will go to higher education. The bill also provides $39 billion in childcare grants, $25 billion in rental assistance and $30 billion for public transportation.
Some Alhambra High School students are pleased by the progress.
“I think it was a kind act from the president,” junior Coco Zhang said. “This amount of money would really make a lot of poor families live better.”
Critics of the plan complain that it did not include the increase to a $15 minimum wage or that $1,400 is not enough.
“Even though the stimulus bill will only help them temporarily, there are many people who need the money, junior Sidney Phan said.
According to the Guardian, the bill narrowly passed through the House of Representatives on a vote of 220 to 211. All Republicans voted against it, in addition to one Democrat. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 50 to 49, also following party lines. On Friday, Mar. 15, President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden will embark on a tour of the nation to celebrate and promote the landmark legislation.