Stimulus Check Update: House Committees Advance Key Provisions Including Direct Payments, Housing Assistance

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Wondering when that $1,400 stimulus payment will hit your bank account? Lawmakers are one step closer to getting more stimulus money passed.

This is a rough time for millions of people. While there have been minor improvements to the economy and job market over the last few months, there were still about 10.1 million Americans out of work as of January 2021. Add to it the fact that an estimated 11.4 million workers will lose their unemployment benefits between mid-March and mid-April and it's a recipe for financial disaster.

Luckily, there could be help on the way in the near future. Discussions regarding President Joe Biden's third stimulus package are underway, and while those direct payment stimulus checks haven't been cleared to hit your bank account just yet, progress has been made. House Democrats advanced a wide range of coronavirus relief provisions last week, meaning the House could pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus package legislation as soon as next week.

If that happens, those $1,400 direct payment checks you've been hearing about could land in your mailboxes or bank accounts sooner rather than later. Here are some of the key provisions the House Democrats advanced last week.

$1,400 stimulus checks

The direct payment stimulus checks that would go to qualifying Americans and their dependents are one of the key provisions passed by the House committees. The direct payments have a significant amount of bipartisan support, with single Americans eligible for up to $1,400 and a family of four being eligible to receive up to $5,600.

Individuals earning $75,000 or less and married couples earning $150,000 or less will get a full stimulus payment, and from there, those payments will start to phase out for higher earners. Unlike the other recent direct payments, this round may exclude individuals earning $100,000 or more and married couples earning $200,000 or more.

Expanded federal unemployment benefits

The December 2020 stimulus bill provided an extra $300 per week for out-of-work Americans, but the expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits are set to end in mid-March. That could be devastating for those who are still unemployed and struggling to make ends meet. This new bill would help make up for the loss by expanding and increasing the weekly federal unemployment boost to $400 per week through Aug. 29.

Extra food benefits

If passed, the House stimulus bill would put an extra 15% worth of food stamp benefits into the pockets of Americans. This boost would last through September rather than expiring at the end of June, which is what the deadline is currently. The WIC program would also receive another $880 million and allow for the continuation of the Pandemic-EBT programs on a state-by-state basis.

Housing assistance

If passed, the House legislation would add another $19.1 billion to state and local governments for housing assistance. This money would help cover late rent payments, rental assistance programs, utilities, and other housing assistance to unemployed, at-risk, or low-income households. Another $10 billion would go to states and tribes for mortgage payment assistance, and another $11 billion would help fund rental assistance and other support services for the homeless.

Significant Child Tax Credits

Another key feature of the House bill is the expansion of the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children under age six and $3,000 for children under age 18. This Child Tax Credit would be sent out monthly rather than claimed in one lump sum on taxes, making it an ongoing source of extra income for parents in need of financial assistance.

Increase in minimum wage

One of the more controversial parts of the House bill is the increase in federal minimum wage. This part of the stimulus bill would ensure that the federal minimum wage is increased to $15 per hour, though it wouldn't go into effect fully until 2025. The bill also guarantees that tipped workers, those with disabilities, and other types of federal workers would receive the full minimum wage.

Other money

There are other key provisions worth noting that were passed by the House committees last week, including $350 billion in financial aid to state and local governments, along with aid to tribes and territories.

There is money earmarked for vaccines as well, including $14 billion for vaccines and $46 billion for testing, contact tracing, and mitigation. Other key provisions include $170 billion in funds to reopen public schools and colleges safely as well as money for health insurance subsidies and Medicaid.

When will my stimulus check arrive?

The vote on the package is expected to occur sometime during the week of Feb. 22. If the third round of stimulus checks is passed by lawmakers, the good news is that your direct payment could land in your bank account as early as mid-March.

According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the goal is to get the relief package signed into law before the middle of March, which is when unemployment benefits are set to expire for most people who are currently receiving unemployment aid. If the relief package is signed into law, the IRS plans to issue the stimulus payments as quickly as possible.

As we saw with the last two stimulus packages, checks could land in your bank account or mailbox in a matter of weeks after the bill is passed if the IRS moves quickly. It only took the IRS about 19 days to issue millions of checks after the first stimulus bill's passage. After the second round of checks was passed, it took about three weeks to issue payments to the majority of Americans.

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