CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: how many votes in favor are needed to pass?

Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan proposes direct stimulus checks and higher child tax credits but Republican Senators are unlikely to support it.

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Third stimulus check: how many votes in favor are needed to pass?
MICHAEL REYNOLDS EFE

Earlier this month President Joe Biden announced details of a large-scale covid-19 relief bill that was intended to offer support for Americans suffering financially due to the pandemic. Known as the American Rescue Plan it is the flagship economic policy of the Biden administration.

Included in the $1.9 trillion package is another round of stimulus checks, greater funding for additional unemployment benefits and federal support for small businesses and local government. Biden believes it to be crucial to rescuing the American economy, but lawmakers on the other side of the aisle have voiced their opposition.

How many votes are needed to pass third stimulus check?

The Democrats should have little trouble getting the new stimulus bill through the House of Representatives. In the lower chamber there are a total of 435 members and so a bill needs to  majority is 218. The Democrats have a majority of 221 members at present in the House.

The Senate, however is a different story. The bill will certainly face much greater opposition. With 100 members, a simple majority would be 51 votes. Rather than a simple majority the Upper House requires a 60-vote ‘supermajority’ for legislation of this type to be passed.

Currently the Democrats control the Senate by the narrowest of margins; each party’s caucus has 50 members but the tie-breaking vote of Senate President Kamala Harris gives them the advantage. As it stands it is difficult to see the required ten Republican Senators crossing the floor to give the Democrats the votes they need.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, the Republican Party’s chief vote counter in the Senate said recently, “I don’t think it can get 60. Because even the people on our side that would be inclined to want to work with the administration on something like that, that price range is going to be out of range for them.”

Biden may choose to risk upsetting Senate Republicans by utilising a Senate mechanism known as ‘budget reconciliation’ to ensure the bill is passed, but this process is lengthy and could defeat the object of bringing emergency relief to families going hungry.

What is GOP Senators' objection to the ARP?

In recent days a number of prominent Republican lawmakers have expressed their opposition with the new stimulus plan, arguing that a bill of this size is unnecessary so soon after the last one. In late-December 2020 President Donald Trump signed an emergency relief bill which provided $900 billion of federal funding to extend elements of the CARES Act, signed in March.

Biden has pledged to govern through bipartisan agreement, suggesting that he will be eager to get some Republicans on board with his proposal. However, so far, even the more moderate GOP lawmakers have spoken out against the bill.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine told reporters in Capitol Hill that she was sceptical of the plan's large cost, saying: "It's hard for me to see when we just passed $900 billion of assistance why we would have a package that big.”

See continued: "Maybe a couple of months from now, the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant, but I'm not seeing it right now."

Others like Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, notably the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in the first impeachment trial, said they were in favour of a more “targeted” approach, suggesting that they could support a ‘trimmed down’ version of Biden's proposal.

Stimulus check and US politics: live news

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