Pennsylvania reacts to COVID relief bill

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Eligible Pennsylvanians could receive the $1,400 stimulus check within days.

Saturday, the U.S. Senate passed the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. Governor Wolf released a statement thanking Senator Bob Casey and all of the federal lawmakers who advocated for the relief package.

Senator Casey spoke with WBRE/WYOU Eyewitness News Sunday afternoon to explain his vote to pass the COVID-19 relief bill. Senator Casey told Eyewitness News if he could describe the COVID relief package in three words he would say vaccination, schools and people because that’s where most of the money is going.

“To finally put this virus behind us, we have to punch it really hard to put it behind us. That means getting more dollars in the system especially at the state level and the community level for vaccination,” Senator Casey said.

The bill would provide $14 billion for vaccine distribution. And $130 billion for reopening schools.

It also provides direct payments of $1,400 to American workers and their dependents. However, individuals making $80,000 and joint tax filers making $160,000 would be phased out.

The bill includes $300 weekly unemployment benefits through September 6. Casey says one of his big contributions to the bill is expanding the child care tax credit.

“A lot of families will have half of their childcare costs helped by that tax credit,” Casey said.

Another is funding for home and community based services for older and disabled adults.

“The numbers in nursing homes would have been a lot smaller because people would be getting care in their home,” Casey

His Republican counterpart Senator Pat Toomey fought hard against the bill. He raised concerns in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

“More than half of everyone who is unemployed is going to get paid more not to work than they get paid working. Who could even think this up? By the way, this bill doesn’t require the schools to reopen. You don’t even have to reopen! Just throw billions and billions of dollars at the schools whether or not they’re actually having kids in the school,” Senator Toomey said.

Toomey also argued the spending is not justified, and many items in the bill are not related to the pandemic. The relief package is expected to pass through the House this week.

The Senate version of the bill does not include a federal minimum wage increase. Nearly 5.9 million households in Pennsylvania are set to receive direct payment.

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