CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: does the House of the Representatives have to pass it?

Congress is facing a midnight deadline to pass a government spending bill with the stimulus bill wrapped in. It is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

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Second stimulus check: does the House of the Representatives have to pass it?
KEN CEDENO REUTERS

Congress is going down to the wire yet again to pass the omnibus funding for the government and a stimulus package to keep the faltering recovery going. The relief legislation stalled for months has gained urgency as deadlines loom and the economic recovery falters, with programs set to expire and covid-19 surging to record levels. Lawmakers tied the relief aid to the government spending bill to ensure that some help would get to American families before Congress goes home.

Sunday night the House passed a continuing resolution to fund the government for 24 hours to give the lawmakers time to hammer out some final details for the $900 billion stimulus relief package. Originally set to be voted on Monday morning a technical glitch delayed getting the 5593-page behemoth of a bill printed out for members to read. The vote will now take place Monday evening and will have to move through both chambers to get to Trump’s desk. If the legislation fails to pass, including the covid-19 relief, 12 federal spending bills and other legislation, the US government could shutdown.

What needs to happen for the covid-19 relief bill to pass?

In order for the stimulus relief bill to get passed, Congress attached it to the other spending bills that need to be approved to keep the government running. The end result is a monster of a bill with 5593 pages which lawmakers will have to review in a very limited amount of time for a vote that is now expected to take place between 8-9 pm ET Monday. It will have to get through both chambers of Congress before it can land on President Trump’s desk where he is expected to sign it.

A number of procedural steps will have to take place before the votes can take place in the House and then the Senate. Now that the text of the relief package is available the House Rules Committee will have to review it before it can be debated on the House floor and then voted on. If the vote fails the lawmakers will have to scramble to pass a continuing resolution to buy more time and keep the government open.

If the bill gets through the House, it will be the Senate’s turn with its own set of procedural requirements. First an agreement on a quick vote will be needed with the consent of all 100 Senators. Failing that, House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to use other procedural steps to get a vote on the floor which could take several days.

What are the prospects of the stimulus package passing?

At the beginning of December, a bipartisan group put together the basis for the relief package that is before Congress. Both sides gave up some of their key demands to get the ball rolling again after months of deadlock.

Democrats gave up funding for the states and local governments while Republicans liability protections for businesses. Originally, another round of stimulus checks were not part of the plan but they worked their way back in over the weekend. However extended unemployment payments of $300 per week were reduced in the final version from 16 weeks to just 11 weeks.

Lawmakers are not happy with the bill which was a last-minute compromise between the top four congressional leaders and then left to committee staff to write up the language. The legislators received the bill late due to a corrupt computer file that prevented the bill from being uploaded. They will have limited time to review the language in a take-it-or-leave vote with no ability to amend the legislation. If they fail to pass the whole of the legislation the government could shutdown at midnight.

If the bill gets through the House, McConnell has said that the Senate will “stay here until we finish tonight." He is also expressed confidence he can get the consent needed to get a quick vote on the bill in an interview with CNN’s Ted Barret. The White House has said that Trump will sign the coronavirus relief bill once it is approved and lands on his desk. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that checks could go out as soon as next week if the bill passes.