The Biden and GOP Relief Bills Compared

Last month, President Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion package that included a wide range of immediate assistance for struggling families, such as a $1,400 stimulus check and an extension to unemployment, nutrition and eviction aid, and longer-term changes such as a $15 hourly minimum wage.

But Republicans on Capitol Hill immediately showed resistance. A group of 10 senators on Sunday released their own proposal of a roughly $618 billion relief plan. The senators met with President Biden to discuss their plan. Afterward, both sides described the meeting as cordial but said there was no agreement on a bipartisan deal.

Here are the differences between the two packages.

Stimulus Payments

Both parties had traded ideas for a new stimulus check. Democrats favor giving eligible Americans up to $2,000, while Republicans are offering slightly less and want to lower the income range of those who would qualify. President Biden’s plan would cost roughly $465 billion, while the Republicans say that their measure would cost an estimated $220 billion.

President Biden  – The President plans on sending another $1,400 per person to eligible recipients. This would be in addition to the $600 payments that were approved by Congress in December for a total of $2,000. Individuals earning less than $75,000 a year will receive the full $600 with married couples filing jointly earning less than $150,000 will get the full $1,200. The new payments would go to adult dependents that were left out of the earlier rounds, like some children over the age of 17. It would also include households with mixed immigration status, after the first round of $1,200 checks left out the spouses of undocumented immigrants who do not have Social Security numbers.

GOP – The Republican senators want to send $1,000 checks, per adult, but target them to those with lower incomes. The amount would begin phasing out at $40,000 for individuals and $80,000 for couples filing jointly. The upper cap would be $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples. Dependent adults and children would receive $500.

Unemployment Benefits

The President is proposing extending benefits through September. Republicans, who have consistently expressed concerns that making unemployment benefits too generous will dissuade people from getting back into the job market, are suggesting extending support only through June. Biden’s plan would cost $350 billion while the senators say their proposal would cost $132 billion.

President Biden – The President would increase the federal boost from $300 a week to $400 a week. He would also extend the payments, along with two key pandemic unemployment programs, through September. This applies to those in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program who have exhausted their regular state jobless payments and in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, and certain people affected by the pandemic.

GOP – The GOP proposal would extend the $300 weekly benefit through June 30. It would also provide $2 billion to states to improve their technology.

Coronavirus Vaccines, Testing, and Tracing

Both plans would provide $160 billion to fight the virus.

President Biden – The President plans on investing $50 billion in testing, providing funds to purchase rapid tests, expand lab capacity and help schools implement regular testing to support reopening. The proposal would also invest $20 billion in a national vaccination program, launching community vaccination centers around the country and mobile units in hard to reach areas. It would also fund the hiring of roughly 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the community health workforce. It would address health disparities by expanding community health centers and health services on tribal lands. And it would provide support to long-term care facilities experiencing outbreaks and to prisons for mitigation strategies.

GOP – The Republicans’ proposal calls for providing the same amount to battle the pandemic. It would fund a National Vaccine Program, expansion of testing, a disaster relief fund, and personal protective equipment for first responders, independent physician offices, and dentists. It would also provide $15 billion to replenish the National Strategic Stockpile and inject $35 billion to the provider relief fund, which reimburses hospitals and health care providers for coronavirus-related expenses and revenue losses.

Nutrition Assistance

Both plans are similar when it comes to extending the food stamp benefits. However, President Biden’s plan has a no price tag while the Republicans say their plan would cost $12 billion.

President Biden – The President would extend the 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September, instead of having it expire in June. He would invest another $3 billion to help women, infants, and children secure food, and give US territories $1 billion in nutrition assistance. A partnership with restaurants to provide food to needy Americans and jobs to laid-off restaurant workers will also be implemented.

GOP – The senators would also extend enhanced food stamp benefits through September as well as provide $3 billion for WIC funding.

Small Businesses 

Both plans would funnel about $50 billion into small business assistance but through different programs.

President Biden – The President’s plan calls for providing $15 billion to create a new grant program for small business owners, separate from the existing Paycheck Protection Program. It also proposes making a $35 billion investment in some state, local, tribal and non-profit financing programs that make low-interest loans and provide venture capital to entrepreneurs.

GOP – The senators would funnel more money into the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Injury Disaster program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Their proposal includes $5 million for audits and investigations into the Paycheck Protection Program.

School Reopening

President Biden, who has made reopening in-person programs a top priority, is offering far more money to pay for upgrades that teachers and districts say are needed to return safely.

President Biden – The President would provide a total of $170 billion more to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to help them reopen and operate safely or to facilitate remote learning. It would provide $130 billion for schools to reopen and for districts to meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Another $35 billion would go to public colleges, including community colleges, and public and private historically black and minority-serving institutions. And it would provide governors with $5 billion to support the hardest hit educational programs, from early childhood to K-12 to higher education.

GOP – The Republicans would provide $20 billion for getting K-12 students back to school.

Child Care

Both plans call for spending billions on child care.

President Biden – The President’s plan calls on Congress to create a $25 billion emergency fund to help child care providers in danger of closing and to assist those who have shut their doors to reopen. It will help pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, as well as coronavirus protection measures. President Biden’s package would also add $15 billion to the existing child care and development block grant program, which provides federal assistance to help low-income families who are working or taking classes pay for child care. The provision aims to help parents struggling to pay for care and to assist women in returning to the workforce, who have left in disproportionate numbers to take care of their children. It also proposes expanding the child care tax credit for one year so that families will get back as much as half of their spending on child care for children under age 13.

GOP – The senators would allocate $20 billion to the child care and development block grant program.

Mental Health Services

Both plans would increase funding for mental health services by the same amount.

President Biden – The President’s package calls for sending $4 billion to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to treatment.

GOP – The senators would also increase funding for behavioral health services by $4 billion.

The rest of President Biden’s plan

Republicans have not yet released the full details of their plan, but here’s what else was in Biden’s proposal.

Rental Assistance and Eviction Moratorium

The President would provide $25 billion in rental assistance for low- and moderate-income households who have lost jobs during the pandemic. That’s in addition to the $25 billion lawmakers provided in December. Another $5 billion would be set aside to help struggling renters pay their utility bills. President Biden is also calling for $5 billion to help states and localities assist those at risk of experiencing homelessness. The plan would extend the federal eviction moratorium, which was to expire at the end of January, to September 30, and allow people with federally-guaranteed mortgages to apply for forbearance until September 30. 

Aid for States

President Biden wants to send $350 billion to state, local, and territorial governments to keep their frontline workers employed, distribute the vaccine, increase testing, reopen schools and maintain vital services. Additional assistance to states has been among the most controversial elements of the congressional rescue packages, with Democrats looking to add to the $150 billion in the March legislation and Republicans resisting such efforts. The December package ultimately dropped an initial call to include $160 billion. President Biden’s plan would also give $20 billion to the hardest-hit public transit agencies to help avert layoffs and the cutting of routes.

A Temporary Increase in Tax Credits

President Biden wants to boost the child tax credit to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,000 for those between ages 6 and 17 for a year. The credit would also be made fully refundable. This would cost $120 billion, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And he proposes to raise the maximum Earned Income Tax Credit for a year to close to $1,500 for childless adults, increase the income limit for the credit to about $21,000 and expand the age range of eligibility to cover older workers. Both of these are aimed at supporting low-income families, including millions of essential workers.

Health Insurance Premium Subsidies

President Biden is also calling on Congress to subsidize through September the premiums of those who lost their work-based health insurance. He wants to increase and expand the Affordable Care Act’s premium subsidies so that enrollees don’t have to pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage. He also wants Congress to provide $20 billion to meet the health care needs of veterans.

Emergency Paid Leave

The President’s plan would reinstate the paid sick and family leave benefits through September 30. It would extend the benefit to workers employed at businesses with more than 500 employees and less than 50, as well as federal workers who were excluded from the original program. People who are sick or quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed, will receive 14 weeks of paid leave. The government will reimburse employers with fewer than 500 workers for the full cost of providing the leave.

$15 Hourly Minimum Wage

President Biden is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to end the tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities.

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