The COVID-19 relief bill worth nearly $2 trillion passed in the House overnight along party lines.By Bryant Reed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — House Democrats have handed President Biden his first major victory of his presidency.

The COVID-19 relief bill worth nearly $2 trillion passed in the House overnight along party lines.

But don’t start counting that stimulus money yet.

Millions of Americans and businesses are one step closer to another round of financial relief.

The package includes:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals earning less than $75,000 per year
  • Boosts federal unemployment payments to $400 per week
  • An increase to the child tax credit
  • Additional funding for small businesses
  • $130 billion for schools

It also includes assistance for rent and food, money for vaccine distribution, and aid for state and local governments.

Republicans have slammed the plan as too costly and too wasteful.

“Our job today is to move quickly to address the physical, emotional, and financial health of all Americans and we can accomplish all three of these priorities through passage of the American rescue plan,” said Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO).

“This is a $1.9 trillion partisan wishlist that could ultimately increase the federal deficit between $2 trillion and $3 trillion without addressing the immediate needs of Americans simply trying to survive this pandemic,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).

The bill will now head to the U.S. Senate, which could land there as early as Monday. 

Democrats want the bill on President Biden’s desk before federal unemployment benefits expire on March 14.

One of the provisions that hit a snag was raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

That provision was left in even after the non-partisan Senate Parliamentarian said including it violates budgetary rules.

The provision will likely hit the cutting room floor once the legislation heads to the Senate.

However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is considering adding a provision to the Senate version that would penalize big companies that don’t pay workers at least $15 per hour.

If approved, money from the from the federal COVID relief plan would help our region in a number of ways.

  • It would fund better access to vaccines
  • School districts in Allegheny County would split $300 million to safely reopen schools
  • Municipalities would also receive money to prevent first responders from being laid off

“Allegheny County municipalities will be looking at over $760 million coming to the county. The City of Pittsburgh alone is going to get $327 million,” said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills).

The bill also includes PPP grants for small independent businesses, money for food stamps, money for rental and mortgage assistance, and a new restaurant revitalization fund.

You can read The American Rescue Plan Act here.