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March 11, 2021

President signs $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill

White House held signing ceremony a day earlier than expected

Today (Thursday, March 11), President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (H.R. 1319), which includes modifications but not drastic changes to the ambitious pandemic relief plan the president originally outlined in January. The president's action comes one day after the House cleared the bill on a vote of 220-211, with one Democrat voting against the bill along with all Republicans. The Senate passed the bill March 6 after a marathon all-night session, 50-49, also with no Republicans in support.

While the administration originally had scheduled the signing for Friday (March 12), White House Chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted that the event was moved up because the enrolled legislation arrived at the White House late Wednesday, sooner than expected: "We want to move as fast as possible … We will hold our celebration of the signing on Friday, as planned, with congressional leaders!" President Biden is scheduled to give a prime-time TV address tonight on the nation's continuing efforts to combat COVID-19, on the one-year anniversary of the declaration of the pandemic emergency by the World Health Organization.

The minimum wage increase to $15/hour proposed in the original plan and approved in the original House bill was omitted in the Senate bill after being ruled a violation of budget reconciliation rules. The bill includes provisions on taxes, health care, unemployment benefits, direct payments, state and local funding and other issues. About half of the $1.9 trillion bill comprises revenue provisions that fall under jurisdiction of the congressional tax-writing committees, and over half of that is attributable to direct payments of $1,400 and an advanceable child tax credit expansion that takes the form of periodic payments from the IRS. The tax-writing committees also had jurisdiction over main pillars of the legislation like an extension of pandemic unemployment programs and COBRA subsidies. Attached is a summary of selected provisions and how the bill's funding is roughly allocated.


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For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:
Washington Council Ernst & Young
   • Any member of the group, at (202) 293-7474.


American Rescue Plan Act highlights