The major order of business for President Joe Biden and Congress is to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package before the round of unemployment benefits and other aid approved in December lapse.
What's riding on this negotiation is the $1,400 stimulus checks proposed by Biden even before he took office, as well as that extra federal unemployment money. The House version passed early Saturday morning, and now the bill heads to the Senate.
FUTURE STIMULUS CHECKS: Tonight, the House will vote on the stimulus bill. It includes $1,400 stimulus checks. A @uhdowntown professor believes this won't be the final stimulus package this year. But could it be the final stimulus check? What he told me on @abc13houston at 630pm. pic.twitter.com/7fTjUiMSrl— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) February 26, 2021
READ MORE: Highlights of new COVID-19 relief billt
The pandemic, however, continues to impact thousands of people's lives, including Junesia Jackson.
"When the pandemic started, I was working at the rodeo," Jackson recalled. "We got laid off. Ever since then, it's been hard."
Nearly a year later, Jackson is still looking for work. She's hoping to get some help.
"Sometimes it gets hard," Jackson said. "I just have to think positive and get through each day."
So, what does this stimulus package include?
- Most Americans would get a $1,400 check.
- Parents would receive about $3,000 per child.
- Unemployment benefits would be boosted by $400 a week through August.
- There's $20 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.
- An increase to $15 minimum wage, but it isn't expected to survive in the Senate.
There are also millions for other projects that are not COVID-19 related, and economists said those may not stick around.
"I believe that some of this pork is going to be removed," said University of Houston Downtown assistant professor Dietrich Von Biedenfled.
He said despite the price tag, he believes the economy needs relief.
"One of the reasons to have a shot in the arm now is because we didn't give the appropriate shot earlier," he said.
But Von Biedenfled said he's not in love with the bill. He said the stimulus checks aren't the best way to help the economy.
"There are things in there that are targeted, but much of it is not," he said. "Much of it is a shotgun approach where you say, 'Here's $1,400.'"
Von Biedenfled believes this will be the final round of stimulus checks and thinks a couple of smaller packages will be needed later this year. But first, it needs to pass the Senate in March.
If it does pass, the money could arrive in weeks.
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