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On The Money: House passes COVID-19 relief bill in partisan vote | Biden to sign Friday | Senate confirms Fudge to lead HUD

On The Money: House passes COVID-19 relief bill in partisan vote | Biden to sign Friday | Senate confirms Fudge to lead HUD
© Greg Nash

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to On The Money, where we want to hear how you plan on spending your stimulus check. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—House passes $1.9T coronavirus relief bill: The House on Wednesday passed the mammoth $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which President BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE is expected to sign Friday.

The House approved the relief package in a starkly partisan 220-211 vote, sending the legislation to the White House and clinching Democrats' first big legislative victory in the Biden era. No Republicans voted for the package and all but one House Democrat—Rep. Jared Golden of Maine—supported it. The Hill’s Cristina Marcos has more here.

The political split: Unlike the previous relief measures enacted last year, Democrats barely bothered to negotiate with Republicans and pushed the relief package through Congress along party lines using the budget reconciliation process. That allowed them to go as big as they wanted to go without running into a Senate GOP filibuster.

  • Republicans argue the use of a process dodging the filibuster shows Biden wasn't serious about bringing unity, and House GOP lawmakers on Wednesday warned of the bill's total cost.
  • But Democrats think Republicans will pay for their opposition to the popular bill and argued that they would oppose anything Biden proposed.

What's in the $1.9T COVID-19 relief package: Along with $1,400 direct payments to households, an extension of expanded unemployment benefits, and aid for state and local governments, the package is loaded with other provisions intended to speed up the recovery from the recession and help struggling families fight the impact of COVID-19.

  • Tax credits: The bill increases the child tax credit for households below certain income thresholds for 2021 and makes it fully refundable, and also expands the earned income tax credit for the year.
  • Child care: $15 billion for grants to help low-income families afford child care and increases the child and dependent care tax credit for one year.
  • Pensions: $86 billion to bailout struggling union pension funds.
  • Transportation: $30 billion to bolster local subway and bus systems, $8 billion for airports, $1.5 billion for furloughed Amtrak workers, and $3 billion for wages at aerospace companies.
  • Housing: $27.4 billion in emergency rental assistance, another $10 billion to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, $5 billion in vouchers for public housing, $5 billion to tackle homelessness and $5 billion more to help households cover utility bills.
  • Small businesses: The American Rescue Plan broadens eligibility guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program, allowing more nonprofit entities to be eligible, adds $15 billion in emergency grants and also sets aside more than $28 billion in funding for restaurants.
  • ObamaCare subsidies and Medicaid expansion: The bill increases ObamaCare subsidies through 2022 to make them more generous, a longtime goal for Democrats, and opens up more fully subsidized plans to individuals. It also would provide extra Medicaid funding to states that expand the program and have yet to do so.

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda, Niv Elis and Nathaniel Weixel break them down here.

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What comes next: White House Press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBlinken talks with Netanyahu amid escalating violence White House: 'Disturbing' to see Cheney booted for telling the truth The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Republican reactions to Cheney's removal MORE said shortly before the House passed the mammoth relief package that Biden will sign it Friday. Biden will also give a speech Thursday on the next steps in the fight against COVID-19, likely highlighting the relief bill and a recent deal to purchase 100 million more doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

"There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of the past year," Biden said, joined by Alex Gorsky, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck, during an event to celebrate the partnership between the two companies. "We cannot let our guard down now or assume that victory is inevitable."

Pressure mounting: While Democrats might be eager to take a victory lap, there will be intense scrutiny over how quickly the Biden administration can deploy the aid approved Wednesday.

White House officials expect the $1,400 direct payments designated for most Americans will be sent out by the end of March. But other forms of assistance in the $1.9 trillion package could take longer to allocate.

Other parts of the bill, however, could take more time to implement or create taxpayer confusion along the way. Naomi Jagoda and Morgan Chalfant tell us why here.

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Read more about the COVID-19 relief bill: 

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed by the House could put the U.S. on track to reach full employment by 2022.
  • The passage of the relief bill has prompted mixed feelings among D.C. trade groups as some praise their victories while others feel left out.
  • American Airlines canceled 13,000 employee furloughs on Wednesday when the House passed the COVID-19 relief package that provided payroll support for the industry.
  • The Senate cut $66 billion from the COVID-19 relief measure's $1.9 trillion cost, according to a new estimate released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office.

LEADING THE DAY

Senate confirms Fudge as Housing secretary: The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeCarter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority HHS, HUD team up to extend COVID-19 vaccine access in vulnerable communities Iowa governor signs law allowing landlords to refuse Section 8 vouchers MORE (D-Ohio) to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a solid bipartisan margin.

Senators approved Fudge’s nomination to be HUD secretary on a 66-34 vote to make her the first woman to hold the position since 1979, the second Black woman and the third woman ever to lead the department.

“I can think of no one better to lead us out of this pandemic and create strong communities for the future than Marcia Fudge,” said Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Democrats offer bill to scrap tax break for investment managers Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask MORE (D-Ohio), chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which advanced Fudge’s nomination by a 17-7 vote last month. I’ve got more here.

The background: 

  • Fudge, who has represented parts of Cleveland and Akron in the House since 2008, was praised by Democrats for her years of work in Congress toward bolstering federal safety net programs and fighting racial inequities in the economy. 
  • She is the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, from 2000 until she was elected to Congress.

The fault lines: While Fudge earned solid bipartisan support, several Republicans fiercely opposed Fudge’s nomination over past heated criticisms of GOP lawmakers and her lack of expertise on housing policy issues.

The challenges: Fudge will take over HUD at a daunting time for both the U.S. housing system and the federal department that oversees it.

  • More than 11 million U.S. households are facing homelessness after nearly a year of economic peril caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the housing affordability crisis that began long before COVID-19 hit the U.S.
  • President Biden is also seeking to dramatically expand public housing and make sorely needed maintenance upgrades to the country’s existing supply.

In other nominations news:

  • The Banking panel also advanced Biden’s picks to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I’ve got the recap here. 
  • The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday gave their stamps of approval for Shalanda Young to be deputy director of the White House Office and Management and Budget.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied to a new record Wednesday after the House approved President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and new data showed inflation staying mild.
  • Corporate executives are bullish on their businesses, with increased plans for hiring, spending and sales as vaccines roll out and the economy recovers, according to a Business Roundtable survey released Wednesday.
  • AMC Entertainment lost $4.6 billion in 2020 after many theaters were not allowed to be open due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Facebook on Wednesday filed motions to dismiss the antitrust cases leveled against it by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of state attorneys general.
  • A bill that would allow news outlets to bargain with tech platforms over the distribution of their content was reintroduced in both chambers by a bipartisan group of lawmakers Wednesday.