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Here's what you can expect to get from the $1.9 trillion House stimulus

The legislation, which largely mirrors the relief proposal outlined in January by President Joe Biden, provides another round of direct payments, as well as additional assistance for the unemployed, hungry, uninsured and at risk of losing their homes. It also would provide a bigger tax break for parents.
Biden and congressional Democrats argue that another massive bill is necessary to assist both people in need and the nation at large.

Now the bill moves to the Senate, which may add, change or eliminate some provisions — including the proposed $15 minimum wage, which the Senate parliamentarian has determined can’t be included under the rules Democrats plan to use for the bill.
Here’s how Americans could benefit:

If your family makes less than $200,000 a year

The House bill would provide direct payments worth up to $1,400 per person to families earning less than $200,000 a year and individuals earning less than $100,000 a year.
Because the payments phase out faster than previous rounds, not everyone who was eligible for a check earlier will receive one now — but for those who are eligible, the new payments will top up the $600 checks approved in December, bringing recipients to a total of $2,000 apiece.
Individuals earning less than $75,000 would receive the full $1,400 and the amount would phase out for those earning more, up to $100,000.
Couples earning less than $150,000 a year would receive $2,800 — and families with children would be eligible for an additional $1,400 per dependent.
The payments will be calculated based on either 2019 or 2020 income. Unlike the previous two rounds, adult dependents — including college students — would be eligible for the payments.

If you are unemployed

Out-of-work Americans would get a federal weekly boost of $400 through August 29. Those enrolled in two key pandemic unemployment programs could also continue receiving benefits until that date.
Freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the coronavirus could remain in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for up to 74 weeks and those whose traditional state benefits run out could receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for 48 weeks.
The jobless in these pandemic programs will start running out of benefits in mid-March, when provisions in December’s $900 billion relief package begin to phase out along with the current $300 federal weekly enhancement.

If you are hungry

Food stamp recipients would see a 15% increase in benefits continue through September, instead of having it expire at the end of June.
And families whose children’s schools are closed may be able to receive Pandemic-EBT benefits through the summer, if their state opts to continue it. The program provides funds to replace free- and reduced-price meals that kids would have been given in school.

If you’re behind on your rent or mortgage

The legislation would send roughly $19.1 billion to state and local governments to help low-income households cover back rent, rent assistance and utility bills.
About $10 billion would be authorized to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, utilities and property taxes.
It would provide another $5 billion to help states and localities assist those at risk of experiencing homelessness.

If you have children

Along with receiving the stimulus payments described above, most families with minor children could claim a larger child tax credit for 2021. Low-income parents, in particular, would benefit.
Qualifying families could receive the child tax credit of $3,600 for each child under 6 and $3,000 for each one under age 18, up from the current credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17.
The credit would also become fully refundable so more low-income parents could take advantage of it. Plus, households could receive payments monthly, rather than a lump sum once a year, which would make it easier for them to pay the bills.
Families paying for child care services could receive some additional aid. The bill would provide $39 billion to child care providers, some of which must be used to help families struggling to pay the cost.

If you’re sick

If you’re sick, quarantining or caring for an ill loved one or a child whose school is closed, the bill may provide your employer an incentive to offer paid sick and family leave.
Unlike Biden’s original proposal, the House bill would not require employers to offer the benefit. But it does continue to provide tax credits to employers who voluntarily choose to offer the benefit through October 1.
Last year, Congress guaranteed many workers two weeks pay if they contracted Covid or were quarantining. It also provided an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to those who were staying home with kids whose schools were closed. Those benefits expired in December.

If you need health insurance

More Americans could qualify for heftier federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies for two years.
Enrollees would pay no more than 8.5% of their income towards coverage, down from nearly 10% now. Also, those earning more than the current cap of 400% of the federal poverty level — about $51,000 for an individual and $104,800 for a family of four in 2021 — would become eligible for help.
Lower-income enrollees could have their premiums eliminated completely, and those collecting unemployment benefits could sign up for coverage with no premiums in 2021.
Those who want to remain on their employer health insurance plans through COBRA could also get federal help. These laid-off workers would pay only 15% of the premium through the end of September, though that could still prove costly.

If you own a small business

The bill would provide $15 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration. Severely impacted small businesses with fewer than 10 workers will be given priority for some of the money.
It also provides $25 billion for a new grant program specifically for bars and restaurants. Eligible businesses may receive up to $10 million and can use the money for a variety of expenses, including payroll, mortgage and rent, utilities and food and beverages.
The Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently taking applications for second-round loans, would get an additional $7 billion and the bill would make more non-profit organizations eligible.
Another $175 million would be used for outreach and promotion, creating a Community Navigator Program to help target eligible businesses.

Who is out of luck?

Workers being paid at or just above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour will not see a boost in pay.

The Senate parliamentarian on Thursday ruled that increasing the hourly threshold to $15 does not meet a strict set of guidelines needed to move forward in the reconciliation process, which would allow Senate Democrats to pass the relief bill with a simple majority and no Republican votes.

This story has been updated to reflect House passage of the bill.

Democrats Move to Salvage Minimum Wage Hike

#masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesRisk Near YouVaccine RolloutNew Variants TrackerAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyHouse Passes $1.9 Trillion Stimulus as Democrats Work to Salvage Wage RaiseEven as the House passed President Biden’s pandemic aid plan with a minimum wage increase included, Democrats were searching for a Plan B for the wage hike, which was ruled out in the Senate.Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on Friday that a minimum wage hike remained “a priority and we will get it done,” but stressed that President Biden’s relief package was still a “great bill” without it.Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York TimesEmily Cochrane and Published

FBI identifies suspect in death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, sources say

The theory, as CNN has reported, is that Sicknick became ill from bear spray used by the mob that attacked the Capitol on January 6, and video evidence CNN previously reported on appears to show the attack that could have caused his death.
It remains a difficult case for investigators and it’s not clear what charge they will be able to bring.
In a statement late Friday, the US Capitol Police noted that the medical examiner’s report on Sicknick’s death wasn’t finished yet: “We are awaiting toxicology results and continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation.”

“Officer Sicknick’s family has asked for privacy during this difficult time and that the spreading of misinformation stop regarding the cause of his death,” the statement said. “The Department and the Sicknick family appreciate the outpouring of support for our fallen officer.”

The New York Times first reported that investigators have zeroed in on one suspect, but have yet to identify the assailant by name.
CNN previously reported that authorities had winnowed it down to a handful of suspects and that new video evidence from the attack helped investigators narrow it down.
In police audio played at former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, officers could be heard screaming during the attack that some members of the violent Capitol mob were spraying them with bear spray. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told reporters at the time that Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who potentially saved the senator from encountering the mob, had indicated to Romney that “he had to breathe a lot of bear spray and tear gas and that he was nauseated” while serving on January 6. The pair had spoken during a break in the trial.
Investigators have struggled for weeks to build a federal murder case in Sicknick’s death as they pored over video and photographs to try to determine the moment in which he suffered his fatal injuries. Investigators determined that initial reports suggesting Sicknick had been struck with a fire extinguisher weren’t true, CNN previously reported.
Several people have been charged with assaulting police officers in the weeks since the attack, but none so far in relation to Sicknick. More than 100 other police officers were injured in the melee last month, including at least 15 who required hospitalization, according to court documents.

Sicknick’s body lay in honor at the Capitol in an emotional ceremony early this month, during which President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and congressional leaders paid visits.
This story has been updated with background information and a statement from US Capitol Police.

CNN’s David Shortell and Ryan Nobles contributed to this report.

Supreme Court once again sides with houses of worship in dispute over Covid restrictions

The court blocked so-called gathering restrictions in Santa Clara County that critics said treated churches differently than secular businesses in violation of the First Amendment.
The issue has bitterly divided the court and the three liberal justices — Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor — noted their dissent in an order issued after hours on Friday.
The court acted despite the fact that the restrictions are scheduled to be lifted next week.

The dispute was brought by several churches in Santa Clara County that objected to a ban on all indoor gatherings, including political events, weddings, funerals, movie showings and worship services.

Although the Supreme Court earlier this month struck down state regulations that banned indoor worship services, the state allows counties to pass their own more strict rules.
In court papers, lawyers for the Santa Clara County churches said the county “did just that.”
“The Santa Clara Director of Public Health forced worshipers outdoors in the heat and smoke of the summer and the cold and rain of autumn and winter,” Kevin T. Snider, a lawyer for the churches, argued in court papers.
“Article III courts have a duty to jealously and zealously protect the peoples’ rights from the other two branches of government and the States in times like these,” he said, calling the county “an island of tyranny.”
Santa Clara County allows houses of worship to meet at 20% capacity for any purpose except worship services. Other businesses including grocery and retail stores, as well as hair salons and tattoo and body art salons, are allowed to operate at 20% capacity.
A lower court upheld the restrictions, holding that they were neutral regulations that apply to all.
In court papers, lawyers for the county distinguished their dispute from the recent Supreme Court case, South Bay v. Gavin Newsom, which concerned state wide regulations. They said that their restrictions are “fundamentally different” from others the justices have already considered because they “do not impose special restrictions on religious institutions.”
“Instead,” James R. Williams, of the office of the County Counsel, argued “they prohibit all indoor gatherings of all kinds at all places.” Williams stressed that the places of worship are not closed. They are open so that individuals can pray, go to confession and seek spiritual guidance.

“Critically, retail stores and other secular establishments are subject to precisely the same rules,” he said, noting that shoppers may purchase items indoors but they can’t attend an indoor gathering such as a book reading.
In its brief Friday order, the Supreme Court disagreed, although it did not provide its reasoning. The court said that the outcome in the case “is clearly dictated” by its decision in South Bay.

Trump endorses primary opponent to Ohio Republican who voted for impeachment

“Max Miller is a wonderful person who did a great job at the White House and will be a fantastic Congressman,” Trump said in a statement released by Save America, the former President’s political action committee. “He is a Marine Veteran, a son of Ohio, and a true PATRIOT.”
Miller announced his campaign for Ohio’s 16th District on Friday, writing on Twitter, “I’m running for Congress to stand up for Northeast Ohioans. They overwhelmingly voted for the America First agenda. But their Congressman betrayed them when he voted to impeach President Trump.”
Trump did not explicitly mention Gonzalez’s vote to impeach him. “Current Rep. Anthony Gonzalez should not be representing the people of the 16th district because he does not represent their interest or their heart. Max Miller has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

Trump has signaled that he wants to shape the future of the party, putting a target on Republicans whom he’s deemed insufficiently loyal. Looking to make his influence felt on 2022, he hopes to prove to both critics and supporters that he is the GOP’s most effective puppeteer — a role he will likely remind the party of during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday.

Gonzalez’s decision to join just nine other House Republicans and all House Democrats to impeach Trump in January unearthed profound anger in his northeast Ohio district, kicking off a localized fight over the future of the Republican Party that pits the two-term congressman against irate constituents eager to expel any Republican who crosses the former President.
But Gonzalez, who easily won reelection to the solidly red seat in November after first winning the district in 2018, has remained defiant in the face of criticism, telling local outlets that he does not regret the vote and is willing to lose his seat over the decision.
Since voting for impeachment, he has continued to make his opposition to Trump heard. Earlier this month, Gonzalez characterized Trump’s expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the US Capitol was under attack on January 6 as problematic for the former President.
“I think it speaks to the former President’s mindset,” Gonzalez said. “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country.”
Miller, who says on his campaign website that he was a senior adviser to the former President, was identified as a former Trump campaign aide in a 2018 Washington Post story about the Office of Presidential Personnel being understaffed, inexperienced and a source of jobs for friends and family, employing aides who had gotten their positions because of work on the Trump campaign despite their questionable backgrounds.
Citing police records, the Post reported that Miller — an office aide — had been charged with assault and resisting arrest in 2007 following an altercation with another man, a case that was later dismissed.
“Growing up, everyone makes mistakes,” Miller told the Post at the time. “Who I was in the past is not who I am now.” CNN had not independently confirmed the Post’s reporting.
A then-White House official told the Post at the time that Miller’s background serving in the Marine Corps Reserve “speaks volumes to his willingness to serve his country.”
Gonzalez isn’t the only Republican who Trump may target heading into 2022.

CNN reported last month that Trump is focusing political energy on targeting Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — the third-ranking House Republican, who also voted for his impeachment — and he has pledged to campaign against Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022, whom he has faulted as not doing enough to challenge his election loss in the state.
In another sign of Trump’s looming influence on the midterms, former Sen. David Perdue of Georgia announced earlier this week that he would not launch a 2022 Senate campaign, though he had very recently filed papers to do so. The seeming reversal followed close on the heels of his recent visit to Palm Beach, Florida, where he had played golf with Trump, said a person familiar with the Georgia Republican’s schedule.

CNN’s Dan Merica, Donald Judd, Kate Bennett and Clare Foran contributed to this report.

Federal Scientists Plead for Pandemic Controls as Infection Declines Stall

#masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The Coronavirus OutbreakliveLatest UpdatesMaps and CasesRisk Near YouVaccine RolloutNew Variants TrackerAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyFederal Scientists Plead for Pandemic Controls as Infection Declines Stall“Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” the C.D.C. director, Rochelle Walensky, said, pointing to a leveling of coronavirus infections as governors move to lift pandemic restrictions.A medical worker distributing vaccines this week at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. More than half a million Americans are dead of Covid-19, and as of Friday, more than 28 million have been infected.Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York TimesFeb. 26, 2021WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned impatient governors on Friday against relaxing pandemic control measures, saying that a recent steep drop in coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States may be leveling off at a very high number — a shift that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said “must be taken extremely seriously.”The pleas from the director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser for the virus, came as the Biden administration scrambled to stay ahead of a possible fourth surge of infections and the spread of worrisome variants, which officials say account for a rising percentage of cases in the country.Those calls punctuated a fast-paced day of pandemic-related developments around the country. Mr. Biden flew to Houston to showcase the government’s latest mass vaccination site. The Food and Drug Administration neared emergency authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine, this one from Johnson & Johnson. And the White House enlisted business groups to help vaccinate their employees and reach Americans resisting vaccinations.Behind it all were ominous signs after weeks of positive developments.“Things are tenuous,” Dr. Walensky said at a White House briefing on the pandemic. “Now is not the time to relax restrictions.”According to a New York Times database, virus cases across the United States appear to be leveling off from the steep decline that began in January, with figures comparable with those reported in late October. The seven-day average of new cases was 69,450 as of Thursday.Cases have slightly increased week over week in recent days, though severe weather limited testing and reporting in Texas and other states the previous week, and not all states reported complete data on the Presidents’ Day holiday. Still, the overall numbers remain horrific: More than half a million Americans are now dead of Covid-19, and as of Friday, more than 28 million have been infected.Yet governors were chafing against coronavirus-related restrictions and itching to take steps to restore a sense of normalcy. In a sign that the partisan divide over the pandemic has not yet abated, Republicans seemed more eager to roll back virus control measures than Democrats, though in New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has also been easing restrictions on a variety of activities.“There’s nothing partisan about this virus,” President Biden said, speaking at a mass vaccination site in Houston with Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, and one of its Republican senators, John Cornyn.Yet in Texas, Mr. Abbott is considering lifting a statewide mask mandate in place since July.In South Carolina, which has been struggling with some of the highest infection rates in the country, Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, announced that on Monday, restaurants would once again be able to serve alcohol past 11 p.m. and that residents no longer needed to get approval from the state to hold events with 250 people or more. The move lifts orders imposed by the state last year.A spokesman for Mr. McMaster, Brian Symmes, said the governor “appreciates perspectives that differ from his own” but “respectfully disagrees” with Dr. Walensky’s assessment.In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves said Thursday that he was also considering pulling back some restrictions, particularly mask mandates for people who have been fully vaccinated. Both are Republicans.President Biden visiting a vaccination facility in Houston on Friday. The White House enlisted business groups to help vaccinate their employees and reach Americans resisting vaccinations.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York TimesAnd in Florida, Republicans who gathered for the first full day of the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference in Orlando mocked coronavirus restrictions. The hosting hotel required attendees to wear masks indoors, but the conference had been underway less than two hours on Friday before the requirement caused a scene.Shortly after Josh Mandel, an Ohio Republican, closed his speech with chants of “Freedom!” two conference officials walked quietly onstage to pause the event, pleading with the audience to wear their masks. The audience erupted in boos and jeers. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, then made fun of pandemic rules like wearing masks in restaurants.Here in Washington, Biden administration officials pleaded with Americans to be patient. Dr. Fauci echoed Dr. Walensky’s warnings that more rollbacks at state or local levels would be unwise, noting that with coronavirus cases still hovering at around 70,000 per day, the country remains in a “very precarious position.”The Coronavirus Outbreak