House Covid Relief Bill Extends Unemployment Benefits by 5 Months, Pays Extra $400 a Week

Carlos Barria | Reuters
  • The House passed a $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, early Saturday.
  • The stimulus bill extends unemployment benefits to Aug. 29 and increases aid by $400 a week.
  • The pandemic relief measure now heads to the Senate. Democrats aim to send it to President Joe Biden by March 14.
Al Drago | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill passed early Saturday by the House of Representatives would extend unemployment benefits by more than five months and offer recipients an extra $400 a week.

The Senate will now consider the legislation. Democrats in the chamber can pass the bill with a simple majority using a budget rule called reconciliation.

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Democrats aim to send the measure to President Joe Biden by March 14. At that time, millions would lose jobless benefits without additional legislation.

More than 19 million Americans were collecting benefits as of early February, according to the Labor Department.

Unemployment benefits extended

The bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, would increase the duration of benefits offered through temporary pandemic relief programs. Aid would end Aug. 29 instead of March 14.

Those programs include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for self-employed, gig and other workers who don't qualify for state-level assistance; and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which pays extra weeks of state benefits to the long-term unemployed.

The bill would offer PUA recipients a maximum 74 weeks of benefits, up from 50. PEUC recipients would get up to 48 weeks instead of 24.

Extra $400 a week

Benefit recipients would also get an extra $400 a week through Aug. 29.

State unemployment benefits replaced about 38% of pre-layoff wages for workers, on average, in the third quarter last year, according to the Labor Department. An extra $400 a week would raise that wage replacement to 86%.

The bill would also provide an extra $100 a week for certain self-employed workers. Workers are eligible for this if they make at least $5,000 in net self-employment income and aren't receiving benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

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