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Senate Approves President Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill

Saturday, March 6, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. Due to substantive changes in the bill, the measure must return to the House floor for a vote before it can reach the President’s desk.

Under the legislation, stimulus checks would phase out entirely for individuals earning more than $80,000, federal unemployment benefits were kept at $300 a week through September, and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility for small businesses was expanded. The bill also directs billions toward rental and homeowner assistance.

Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) Federal Advocacy Director and Senior Counsel Ashley Harrington released the following statement:

We applaud the Senate for passing legislation that will benefit millions of Americans, especially low-income families and people of color. We also applaud the inclusion of a Homeowner Assistance Fund at the Department of Treasury that allocates $10 billion toward states and territories to help struggling homeowners make payments on their mortgages, property taxes, and utilities as they navigate the ongoing crisis. It is imperative that Treasury ensures an equitable distribution so that Black and Hispanic families, who lost their homes at twice the rate of white homeowners during the last financial crisis, are not left behind and have a fair chance to participate in the recovery to come.

While the bill also included expansions to PPP, more fixes are needed to ensure equity and relief for struggling businesses of color. The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that it will now calculate loan amounts for non-employer businesses based on net profit rather than gross income for a better representation of businesses’ relief needs. However, this change is not retroactive and Congress must take action to do so and to extend the PPP, which is scheduled to end on March 31. We urge lawmakers to move swiftly so that the smallest businesses have a shot at thriving during these perilous times.

Lastly, we applaud lawmakers for including student loan provisions that will prevent borrowers from being taxed during the next five years if they receive debt relief from their lender, and close the 90/10 loophole that enables predatory, for-profit colleges to target veterans and waste taxpayer funds. Closing this loophole will not only remove the incentive to target veterans, but also Black Americans and communities of color, and other vulnerable groups.

Now that students will no longer be taxed for receiving relief, it is essential President Biden move forward with providing across-the-board student debt cancellation in the form of $50K per person, which will provide relief to the millions of borrowers and recent graduates facing one of the toughest job markets in recent history. Failure to provide real relief to student borrowers during these precarious times will only exacerbate wealth and income disparities.

Once this measure is signed into law, we look forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress on upcoming stimulus plans as equitable homeownership and entrepreneurship opportunities for Black and brown communities will be essential to a full recovery.

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Press Contact: Vincenza Previte vincenza.previte@responsiblelending.org