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A massive Covid relief bill is set for final passage. Here's what's in it

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: President Biden Speaks Following Passage Of The American Rescue Plan
President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.Samuel Corum / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — By now, you probably know the price tag of the Covid-19 relief bill the Senate passed over the weekend ($1.9 trillion), the partisan split over it (no Republican voted for it) and what’s not in the legislation ($15 minimum wage increase).

But here are the policies that are in the bill, per NBC’s Sahil Kapur:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks capped at individuals making less than $80,000 per year and households earning $160,000.
  • $300 per week jobless benefits through September.
  • $350 billion for states and local government.
  • Payments up to $3,600 per child.
  • $34 billion to expand Obamacare subsidies.
  • $14 billion for vaccine distribution.

The legislation, which now heads back to the House for final passage, also includes $130 billion for schools.

The bill’s overwhelming focus is on lower-income Americans, as the New York Times’ Jim Tankersley writes.

“For [Biden], the plan is more than just a stimulus proposal. It is a declaration of his economic policy — one that captures the principle Democrats and liberal economists have espoused over the past decade: that the best way to stoke faster economic growth is from the bottom up,” Tankersley says.

“Mr. Biden’s approach in his first major economic legislation is in stark contrast to President Donald J. Trump’s, whose initial effort in Congress was a tax-cut package in 2017 that largely benefited corporations and wealthier Americans.”

Decoding Manchin on the filibuster

Looking ahead to future legislation, one of us on Sunday asked Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., if he’d support ending the Senate filibuster on legislation like H.R. 1’s election reform.

Manchin’s answer: “The Senate is the most unique body of government in the world — governing body in the world. It's deliberate. It's basically designed, Chuck, to make sure the minority has input. ... And now if you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk, I'm willing to look at any way we can. But I'm not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.”

He also said, “I'm not willing to go into reconciliation until we at least get bipartisanship or get working together or allow the Senate to do its job. Just by assuming that, ‘Hey, they'll never work with us. That's the other side. This is tribal. Republicans will never agree on anything’ or ‘Democrats will never agree.’ I don't subscribe to that. I don't buy into that. There's no need for us to go to reconciliation until the other process has failed.”

Bottom line: Manchin still supports the filibuster, because he says it’s important to protect the minority party’s rights.

But, he’s willing to reform it (by actually forcing objecting senators to talk), and he’s willing to use reconciliation on budget-related bills after a bipartisan approach has failed.

“Manchin is — and always was — unlikely to break on filibuster. But as long as he’s ok with 50-50 reconciliation votes, you’re talking potentially trillions of dollars worth of progressive priorities going through. That’s why this is a BIG interview,” NBC’s Benjy Sarlin tweeted.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$1.9 trillion: The amount of the massive Covid relief bill that passed through the Senate on Saturday.

$86 billion: The amount in the bill intended to shore up failing pensions.

More than 93 percent: The share of American children who will benefit under the bill’s expanded aid for kids.

29,125,075: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 168,040 more than Friday morning.)

527,569: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 4,439 more than Friday morning.)

40,212: The number of people currently hospitalized with coronavirus in the United States.

363.8 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

90,351,750: Number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

30,686,881: People fully vaccinated in the U.S.

52: The number of days left for Biden to reach his 100-day vaccination goal.

Tweet of the day

Biden celebrates Senate bill’s passage

President Biden on Saturday celebrated Senate’s passage of the $1.9 trillion Covid relief package. “It wasn't always pretty. But it was so desperately needed, urgently needed.”

He added, “This nation has suffered too much for much too long, and everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation and put us in a better position to prevail.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spiked the football, too. “Everyone knows, especially with 50 votes, we all have to pull together. Everyone knows. You know I have a leadership team that meets on Monday nights, and it has lifted Warren and Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin and Mark Warner and people in between. And that's because we all have to — we have to talk to each other, realize we need each other. And that is the secret to the success here, every person realizing that we needed every other person to have this victory.”

MTP Compressed

Catching up on Meet the Press? Sen. Manchin and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., joined the show to discuss the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill that passed in the Senate as well as the future of bipartisanship on major legislation. Plus, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients explained the necessity of equity in the administration's race to get Americans vaccinated.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A new Biden executive order could change how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct.

More top lawmakers in New York are calling for Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

The politics of the minimum wage don’t break down on party lines anymore.

Trump’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to top Republican groups asking them to stop using his name and likeness in fundraising appeals.

Mike Pence is headed to South Carolina for his first address since leaving office.

The New York Times does a deep dive on Josh Hawley.