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Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Biden has officially signed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed by Congress, clearing the way for stimulus checks to go out as soon as this weekend.

Why it matters: While Democrats were unable to include some progressive priorities in the bill, like an increase in the minimum wage, the final product is being touted as one of the most consequential anti-poverty bills of the modern era.

The bill includes:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks for Americans making less than $75,000 annually and married couples making less than $150,000. Check sizes phase down from there, with a cap of $80,000 for individuals and $160,000 for couples.
  • A continuation of the federal $300-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit. Federal income taxes will also be waived on the first $10,200 of 2020 unemployment benefits for households earning less than $150,000.
  • An increased child tax credit in 2021 of $3,600 for children up to age 5 and up to $3,000 for ages 6–17.
  • $350 billion in state and local aid and $128.6 billion to help K-12 schools reopen.
  • $25 billion in aid to restaurants and other food and drinking establishments.
  • $19 billion in emergency rental assistance, $100 million to housing counseling programs and $5 billion to help combat homelessness.
  • $7.25 billion in funds for Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses.
  • $7.5 billion in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for vaccine distribution.
  • Increased subsidies for Americans buying health care through the Affordable Care Act.
  • An extension of 15% increased federal SNAP benefits through September.
  • About $7.2 billion for the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that all students have internet access during remote learning.

Go deeper: America's pandemic relief spending will forever reshape how Washington responds to crises

Go deeper

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.

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