North Carolina Senate passes $1 billion COVID-19 relief bill

Southeast

RALEIGH, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — The North Carolina Senate passed a $1 billion COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday. The legislation would use $440 million in federal coronavirus funding and include stimulus payments for parents.

The bill passed by a 44-5 margin and will go to the House Thursday for a vote.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly unveiled the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 earlier this week, including $335 in direct payments to households that have at least one child. 

“I know $335 isn’t gonna pay off a mortgage, but it’ll put a dent in the cost of electronic devices or help pay for a tutor,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger told NewsNation affiliate WNCN. “I really am not worried about how parents will spend that $335. All I know is they need it. They deserve it.” 

The legislature reconvened this week to vote on how to spend about $903 million in remaining funding from the federal CARES Act, which Congress required be spent by the end of the year. 

Democrats tried unsuccessfully to make various changes to the relief bill Wednesday, including expanding Medicaid and boosting unemployment benefits higher than Republicans have supported. 

Republicans included a temporary increase to state unemployment benefits of $50 per week, which would last until the end of the year. That’s in addition to $300 per week in federal benefits recently authorized by President Donald Trump in an executive order. 

In a news release, Senate Republicans said this is how the payments would go out:   

The Department of Revenue will review tax records to identify tax filers who claimed a child in 2019 and automatically issue checks. Those parents who fell through the cracks, parents who did not have any tax liability or were not required to file tax returns will still qualify for the program, but DOR will not automatically find them. Those parents would be eligible to apply for the $335 Extra Credit Grant.

The maximum income eligibility to receive the Extra Credit Grant will be identical to the federal threshold for the Child Tax Credit. There will be no minimum income requirement.

If the bill ultimately becomes law, the $335 stimulus payments would be distributed by Dec. 15.  

NewsNation affiliate WNCN contributed to this report.

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