The Landscape

The United States Senate narrowly passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” late Saturday night after a marathon, 25-hour session, 50-49 along party lines. Highlights of the bill include an economic stimulus of $1,400 for Americans who earn less than $75,000 as individuals, $112,500 for heads of households and $150,000 for couples filing jointly as well as $1,400 per eligible child dependent. While the amount of the stimulus check decreases for higher earners, income eligibility for this stimulus differs from the previous two. Additionally, the bill extends $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September, increases the child care tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 and sends $350 billion to states, cities and tribal governments. 

The bill heads back to the House of Representatives for approval this week after provisions for increasing the minimum wage were struck down, income eligibility for stimulus payments were narrowed and eight additional provisions were added in the Senate-passed legislation, including: $4.25 billion for education programs, $10 billion for state infrastructure programs and $510 million in emergency food assistance.

After a scheduled Wednesday vote in the House, the reconciled bill will head to President Biden’s desk for his signature. 

Hearings dominate the week’s schedule on Beacon Hill. This morning, the Senate Ways & Means Committee is collecting testimony on three voting reform bills including a bill on mail-in and early voting for cities and towns with spring municipal elections. Written testimony can be submitted to the committee by 10:00 a.m.

Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Ways & Means hosts it’s second virtual hearing on Governor Baker’s fiscal year 2022 budget beginning at 10 a.m, with this hearing focusing on economic development, labor and housing issues. Additionally, the Joint Committee on Transportation will host its first virtual hearing of the legislative session Tuesday at 11a.m. on Baker’s $200 Chapter 90 bill (H57) to fund improvements for municipally owned roads and bridges. 

On Thursday, teachers become eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccination after weeks of pressure on Baker to act. Union leaders are meeting Wednesday with the Governor to push for a coordinated vaccination effort for school personnel administered by firefighters. 

The News


EARLY SPRING: Record temperatures are headed for parts of Massachusetts this week.