Dems propose $1,400 payments as part of Biden virus relief

The bill would also expand tax credits for families with children, for lower-earning people and for Americans who buy health insurance via Obamacare

United States Capitol (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Democrats on a pivotal House panel have proposed an additional $1,400 in direct payments to individuals, bolstered unemployment benefits and more generous tax breaks for families with children and for lower earners as Congress began piecing together a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package on Monday.

Read More: President Biden urges Congress to expedite stimulus payments: ‘We don’t have a second to waste’

The plan is expected to closely follow President Joe Biden’s proposed package to address the tolls of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 460,000 Americans, and the nation’s still staggering economy, which has lost 10 million jobs since the crisis began last year. Biden, less than three weeks into his presidency, has declared that defeating the virus and fixing the economy are his top priorities.

President Joe Biden is shown meeting with Democratic senators in the Oval Office Wednesday to discuss his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. He met with Republican senators the day before. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

The proposal by the Ways and Means Committee, which plans to vote on it by week’s end, would also expand tax credits for families with children, for lower-earning people and for Americans who buy health insurance on marketplaces created by former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It would also provide health care subsidies for some unemployed workers.

Read More: Dems to introduce $3,000 per child benefit as part of Biden relief bill

United States Capitol (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Spending by Ways and Means, one of Congress’ most powerful committees, is expected to exceed $900 billion, nearly half of Biden’s overall plan. The House Education and Labor Committee also previewed its plans on Monday, a roughly $350 billion package that includes $130 billion to help schools reopen safely, $40 billion for colleges battered by the pandemic and gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Top Democrats hope the House will approve the complete bill later this month and send a final House-Senate version to Biden for his signature before mid-March, when crucial emergency unemployment benefits will otherwise expire.

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