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What's in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan passed by the Senate

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Posted at 4:18 PM, Mar 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-06 16:32:36-05

WASHINGTON -- The Senate passed the American Rescue Plan Saturday, a $1.9 trillion bill that supporters say will help the country defeat the coronavirus pandemic and get the economy back on track. No Republican in the Senate voted in favor of the measure, and it passed 50-to-49. The GOP said the measure was more expensive than what is needed.

The bill now heads back to the House for approval of the Senate's version, which sources say could happen Tuesday, before going to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Here's a look at some of the items included in the Senate-passed bill:

Stimulus checks:
The massive bill includes a direct payment of up to $1,400 for an individual, or $2,800 for a couple that files jointly, plus an additional $1,400 per dependent.

This round of stimulus is limited to individuals earning up to $80,000 or couples making up to $160,000.

It is not immediately clear if the IRS will use 2019 or 2020 tax returns for calculating a person's or family's earnings.

Unemployment insurance:
The Senate's version of the bill extends the currently enhanced jobless benefits through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. The bill also includes language that makes the first $10,200 of jobless benefits non-taxable for households with incomes under $150,000.

There is also a measure to provide 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums, to help laid-off workers remain on their previous employer's health plans at no additional cost through September.

Vaccines and COVID-19 testing:
Around $46 billion is allocated to expand federal, state and local testing for COVID-19 and to enhance contact tracing. There is another $14 billion to specifically help speed up the distribution and administration of vaccines.

Schools:
The Biden administration has focused on reopening schools, and around $130 billion in the bill is heading to K-12 schools to help cover costs around pandemic safety measures like reducing class sizes to provide social distancing, install ventilation systems, and pay for personal protective equipment.

Colleges and universities will see about $40 billion, to be used by institutions on pandemic-related expenses and emergency help to students.

State and local governments:
State, local and tribal governments will be getting $350 billion to help with costs associated with the pandemic, and they have until 2024 to include those costs.

Tax breaks:
The bill includes measures that change the tax law, increasing the tax break to $3,000 for every child age 6 to 17, and $3,600 for every child younger than 6. And those payments would be delivered monthly instead of in a lump sum, if the Secretary of the Treasury determines that is possible. If not, the measure says the payments are to be made as frequently as possible.

The American Rescue Plan is the fifth coronavirus relief-related bill to pass through Congress, totaling about $4 trillion.