Congress passed the largest COVID relief bill to date. The $1.9 trillion package invests in everything from small business relief to vaccine distribution. Host of Your Political Playlist, Emily Tisch Sussman, explains what the new COVID stimulus bill means for you and your family.

By Emily Tisch Sussman
March 17, 2021
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An image of Joe Biden signing the COVID-19 Relief Bill.
Credit: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Last week, Congress passed the largest COVID relief bill to date. The $1.9 trillion package invests in everything from small business relief to vaccine distribution. But how will President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan affect you and your family?

Before the bill passed, I sat down with women and mothers in politics and activism on my podcast Your Political Playlist and heard just how much families of all backgrounds are feeling the strain of the pandemic. From job loss to shuffling around schedules to accommodate both work and remote school, to sharing Zoom calls with co-workers and kids, COVID-19 has created big strains for families.

The coronavirus relief package includes six key provisions that will positively impact families: direct stimulus payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit, education funding, extended unemployment and food benefits, health care for mothers, and funding for vaccination efforts. Here's the breakdown.

Direct Dollars

Research shows that nearly 3 million women have left the workforce due to the pandemic, leading to a significant loss in household income for many families. The American Rescue Plan gives immediate relief to families struggling to make ends meet by providing $1,400 stimulus checks per person.

Eligibility and the amount you qualify for will depend on income and other factors. For example, a person making under $75,000 and married couples with incomes under $150,000 will qualify for the full amount. To see how much your family may qualify for, visit the Get My Payment website.

The Child Tax Credit

The American Rescue plan makes a historic investment in the Child Tax Credit and aims to cut child poverty in half by ensuring low-income families can qualify for the tax credits regardless of income. Under the expanded Child Tax Credit, families will get $3,600 for each child under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17 for one year.

Families will be sent direct payments from July to December 2021, then be able to claim the rest when they file their 2021 taxes next year. This ensures families have immediate access to these essential dollars.

Education and Child Care

The new COVID relief plan allocates $128 billion to help schools return to in-person learning and $39 billion in direct funding to child care providers who were hardest hit by the pandemic.

Remote learning has put pressure on families and parents to assume the role of teacher, child care expert, parent, and employee. Not only is this unsustainable, but it has also increased education disparities, especially for students of color, and exacerbated mental health concerns for children. In an effort to support local districts to get students back in the classroom, the stimulus plan includes nearly $130 million to help schools implement CDC guidelines, which will allow students to safely return to in-person learning.

Too often, child care workers are overlooked as critical to economic infrastructure, and the pandemic has highlighted their importance. Many parents, especially mothers, have had to leave their jobs to be able to take care of their children, as child care became inaccessible often due to cost. The $39 billion stimulus will fund the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program to help struggling child care providers stay open and provide money to children of essential workers who need tuition assistance.

Extended Unemployment and Food Benefits

The American Rescue Plan extends the expanded unemployment benefits that many families have relied on throughout the pandemic. The $300 weekly supplemental in unemployment benefits will help families with paying their bills.

The bill also ensures that families can put food on the table through increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. The American Rescue Plan also includes additional funding to expand and modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which helps reduce infant mortality and improves the health of infants and children.

Saving Mothers' Lives

To address the staggering rates of maternal deaths in the United States, the American Rescue Plan allows states to extend Medicaid coverage for mothers who have given birth to a full year for five years.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the industrialized world—a rate that is disproportionately high among Black women. This is due in part to many women losing health care coverage 60 days after birth under the public health program.

Funds to Get Everyone Vaccinated

The COVID stimulus will invest over $160 billion to distribute vaccines quickly so anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. The funding will also provide supplies for emergency response, COVID testing and tracing, and for public health workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

I sat down with experts like Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath and Dr. Lindsay Owens from the Groundwork Collaborative to understand how the plan will impact Americans. Listen to their interviews on Your Political Playlist. For more conversations with women at the seat of power and activism about policy that affects you and your family, follow @YourPoliticalPlaylist on Instagram, and listen wherever you get your podcasts.