After an initial delaying tactic by Senator Ron Johnson (R-WS) that called for a reading of the bill throughout Thursday, the Senate moved on the American Rescue Plan on Friday morning. A CWLA description of the still-changing package can be found here. Earlier in the week, the Senate Democratic leadership was negotiating various alterations from the House version to assure they keep all 50 Senate Democrats on board.
One of the big changes was in the $1400 rebate, with a handful of Senators getting the Biden Administration to agree to completely phase-out the rebates for an individual making $80,000 and couples making $160,000. The House version had the complete phase out at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples.
There were also tweaks and adjustments such as a set aside of $2.7 billion for private schools and a set-aside in K-12 funding for various programs for summer learning, extended day, afterschool, and other models to assist a student who have fallen behind during the pandemic. A potentially important provisions for states that will need to address education challenges for students in foster care.
There were also adjustments to some of the local relief funding for local governments, with new formulas and assurance being included in how the nearly $350 billion would be allocated and split between states and between state and local governments. Ten billion will be available for infrastructure projects. There was also debate on the weekly unemployment benefits and extensions, with an adjustment that will reduce the weekly supplement from the $400 House version to $300, but it will also extend another month and forgive some of the income taxes some people have to pay on last year’s unemployment compensation.
The legislation will have to go back to the House for approval and to iron out any differences. The goal remains to get the bill to the President by March 14, when current extensions adopted in December are set to expire.