Stimulus Debate Begins, Unemployment Benefits Lowered to $300

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MICHAEL REYNOLDS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11773219b)Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer holds a news conference regarding COVID-19 economic stimulus relief legislation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 23 February 2021.

The marathon amendments session, also known as a vote-o-rama, for the passage of the American Rescue Plan has begun, and Senate Democrats just announced they had agreed to lower weekly unemployment benefits.

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Find: US Jobs Up By 379,000 in February, Mostly in Hospitality and Leisure – But Black Unemployment Jumps, Too

The original plan called for $400-per-week unemployment insurance payments, but they will now be lowered to $300 and will be extended through the end of September instead of August, according to The Wall Street Journal. In addition, the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits will not be taxed, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“The President believes it is critical to extend expanded unemployment benefits through the end of September to help Americans who are struggling, as the President proposed in the American Rescue Plan,” Psaki tweeted this morning.

“The compromise amendment achieves that while helping to address the surprise tax bills that many are facing by eliminating the first $10,200 of UI benefits from taxation for 2020. Combined, this amendment would provide more relief to the unemployed than the current legislation,” Psaki said in a follow-up tweet.

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See: Will You Owe Taxes on Your 2020 Unemployment Checks?
Find: Vice President Kamala Harris Breaks Tie to Begin Senate Debate on COVID Relief

Last night, Vice President Kamala Harris broke the tie to start the Senate debate on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, advancing the passage of the bill. While the vote is expected this weekend, Republicans who vowed to slow down the process include Sen. Ron Johnson, who forced a reading of the full bill. The reading of the 628-page bill added more than 10 hours to the 20 hours allotted for debate.

“The Senate Clerks finished reading the American Rescue Plan around 3am. And they’re right back at their posts this morning. To the Clerks and Floor Staff: Thank you. GOP Senator Ron Johnson wanted to make sure Americans heard again how popular and bold the American Rescue Plan is,” Majority Speaker Chuck Schumer tweeted this morning.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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