By Anne Walker | Staff Writer, Video by George Schroeder | Broadcast Reporter
President Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, passed in the Senate on Saturday and is headed to the House for a final vote. The plan expands eligibility for stimulus checks to adult dependents — including college students.
Houston Baylor Law student Jordan Dobbs said while she believes the previous stimulus packages should have included greater support for adult dependents, she is pleased to see Congress acknowledge adult dependents in the upcoming relief package.
“I think dependents and college students should have been factored in way earlier than they are now,” Dobbs said. “Last summer, that was hard for me because my dad did lose his job from the pandemic, so I couldn’t rely on him to help me out when I was short, and I didn’t have a job, so it was difficult.”
Experts estimate that around 13.5 million college students will be eligible for the $1,400 stimulus payments as adult dependents. However, the IRS will distribute the payments to the taxpayer, not the dependents. For most Baylor students, that will mean the payments will be sent to their parents.
The bill also includes $1,400 stimulus payments for individuals making up to $75,000 and couples making up to $150,000.
In the past, Dobbs used stimulus checks to pay for her LSAT and law school applications. Dobbs said she and her sister already have a plan for their anticipated $1,400 stimulus checks.
“The first thing that we marked on our list was textbooks. As a law student, textbooks are really expensive, so I will be paying for textbooks and for my summer quarter,” Dobbs said.
While she expects some students will use the money for luxuries or leisure activities, Dobbs said she plans to devote the check completely to necessities. Along with partially funding her education, Dobbs said she hopes the check will help her afford medical appointments.
“I need to go get a dentist appointment in the near future, and I would like to be able to pay for that without having to ask my parents. So it’ll go towards medical appointments and then textbooks for sure,” Dobbs said.
Austin junior Sydney Sheridan affirmed Congress’ decision to provide stimulus payments for adult dependents in the American Rescue Plan.
“It’s really difficult working as a college student already, but the pandemic has definitely limited job options for a lot of people,” Sheridan said. “I lost my job during the summer of 2020 and was forced to take time off from school, so that I could find a job to pay for my rent and groceries.”
Sheridan stressed that many Texan undergraduates have a more urgent need for government assistance following Winter Storm Uri.
“The next stimulus bill is going to help especially after the snow storm. Most if not all of my friends couldn’t go to work that whole week,” Sheridan said. “I know most of my Baylor friends are planning to use this money to make up for the money lost. My car had some damage from the storm, and I hope to use part of the stimulus money for that.”
The senate voted on the legislation using reconciliation, so that it would only require a simple majority to pass. Support for the bill split down party lines with every Democrat voting in favor of the bill and every Republican voting against it.
Both U.S. senators from Texas decried the bill as partisan. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) issued a statement condemning the bill.
“Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to open our schools, bring back small businesses, and help struggling Americans get back on their feet, Democrats chose to pander to their radical liberal base with partisan handouts,” Cruz said. “This bill is stuffed with pork, with only nine percent of the almost $2 trillion going toward actual and urgent COVID relief.”
The bill is expected to receive greater support from Texas congressmen in the House. Congressman Vincente Gonzalez (D-Texas), who represents Texas’ 15th congressional district, announced his support for the bill in February.
“I am proud to be voting in favor of this legislation that will revitalize our economy and deliver immediate relief to those who are bearing the brunt of the crisis and working day and night to keep our communities safe,” Gonzalez said.
The House plans to vote on the bill Tuesday or Wednesday morning.