Democrats in Congress passed President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending bill on Wednesday without any votes from Republicans, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars more than they could potentially receive in a stimulus check.
The legislation, which Biden is expected to sign into law on Friday, contains a myriad of provisions ranging from extending unemployment benefits through September, expanding the child tax credit, allocating billions of dollars for small business loans through the paycheck protection program, designating billions more for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, expansions on Obamacare insurance subsidies even for those who may not need the financial help, paying the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) billions to help facilitate vaccine distribution and administration, grants for restaurants, money for schools which may or may not reopen, tax hikes, and much more.
Less than 9 percent of the total spending bill goes directly to combatting COVID-19 or vaccine distribution.
“If this bill was about direct payments to people and putting shots in the arms and vaccines, you would have strong bipartisan support across this Congress and across this country,” Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., said on NPR Wednesday morning.
One of the most popular measures included in the bill is direct payments of $1,400 to Americans who fall below a yearly income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples who file jointly. An extra $1,400 will be distributed for each dependent an individual claims on their tax returns. Most of these payments, however, will not outnumber the price of the legislative spending that will eventually have to be paid by taxpayers, which amounts to approximately more than $5,000 each.
This is a ridiculous framing. It’s not that you’re getting $1400 and it’s costing you $5757 – it’s that you’re getting $1400 and it’s costing your kids $5757, plus interest. https://t.co/8x0umfP0S7
— Zack Kanter (@zackkanter) March 6, 2021
While at least $1 trillion sits unspent from the round of stimulus packages shoved through the legislature in previous months, other provisions unrelated to the pandemic were also tucked into the more than 600-page bill. It includes millions of dollars for libraries, public broadcasting, pollution mitigation, and abortion programs not subject to the Hyde Amendment, which is supposed to prevent taxpayer-funded abortions.
Republicans, all of whom voted against the bill, argue that it merely racks up the national debt and seeks to serve the people in power.
“If you are a member of the swamp, you do pretty well under this bill,” said House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy of California.
Others suggest it was a deliberate political move initiated by Democrat leadership and fed by Biden’s rejection of a cheaper, Republican proposal last month.
“This should be a targeted relief bill, but instead, this is an attempt by Speaker Pelosi to further promote her socialist agenda,” said House Minority Whip Republican Steve Scalise of Lousiana.