Third stimulus check: what happens now Senate have approved budget resolution?
Pelosi has said that she wants to pass a new stimulus bill including direct checks within two weeks; Biden can sign it as soon as it hits his desk.
Democrats are working quick-sharp to pass a new round of covid-19 relief spending, with the clock ticking on extended unemployment benefits set to run out by mid-March. President Biden defended a move by congressional Democrats to bypass the need for Republican backing using reconciliation, a budget procedure whereby only need a simple majority in the Senate is required to pass new spending.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is being used as a framework for the latest round of coronavirus aid. Details are to be confirmed, but would include a third stimulus check payment of $1400 to top-up the $600 direct payments sent out in December.
What is the possible timeframe for passing third stimulus check?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that she aims to pass the package in two weeks, before handing the bill over to the Senate, where the Democrats plan to push through a vote without Republican support. When asked whether the bill would meet the previous forecast deadline of 14 March Pelosi responded "Absolutely...without any question. Before then."
Democrats want to get the bill out before the extended unemployment benefits expire in mid-March. Once the Senate passes the final covid-19 relief bill it will be sent to President Biden to sign into law. He would have 10 days to sign the bill or veto it, but would most likely not waste time and could be expected to sign and pass a bill as soon as the same day.
“I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help to do our job, to not let them down. So I’m going to act and I’m going to act fast,” Biden said.
Once Biden signs the bill the IRS will start sending out the stimulus payments. The agency now has experience sending out direct payments from the previous two rounds allowing it to send out the second round faster than the first. If everything proceeds apace in Congress avoiding getting bogged down in negotiations, on that timeline Americans could see a third stimulus check hitting their bank accounts sometime between mid-March and early April.
Stimulus wheels in motion following budget reconciliation
On Friday the House approved the final budget framework in a 219-209 vote with unanimous GOP opposition. Hours earlier the Senate voted along party lines to approve the fast-track budget measure whereby they could use reconciliation. The all-night voting marathon saw Vice President Kamala Harris cast her first tiebreaking vote.
The ground is now set for lawmakers to get down to writing the language for the legislation based on Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal that they will vote on. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that she aims to send a sweeping coronavirus relief bill to the Senate within two weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also talked about the need to act fast.
Negotiations ongoing on details of stimulus checks
Once the Senate has the House bill there will still be challenges with one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, stating publicly that he is against the direct payments going to upper income earners. Manchin and Susan Collins put forth a proposal during the Senate vote-a-rama to exclude "upper-income taxpayers" from eligibility for any third round of direct payments. The proposal met with near universal approval but exactly what would constitute “upper-income” was not defined.
Biden when speaking on the economy on Friday let it be known that he is open to negotiating eligibility limits for the checks saying “We need to target that money so folks making $300,000 don’t get any windfall.” Biden didn’t give any specifics what that limit should be but one figure floating around is $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples. A group of 10 GOP senators in a counterproposal put the limits at $40,000 and $80,000 respectively.
The Republicans’ plan also sought to lower the total possible payout for each check, which was a non-starter. A proposal drawn up by 10 GOP lawmakers calles for $1000 direct payments as opposed to $1400 payments Biden’s plan states. Biden tried to put an end to any debate speaking from the White House saying “I’m not cutting the size of the checks. They’re going to be $1,400, period.”
What's happening with the $15 minimum wage proposal?
The American Rescue Plan is a sweeping proposal that includes raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The Democrats need all 50 Senators onboard with the final package to pass the coronavirus relief bill. Joe Manchin has expressed his opposition to this part of the bill. Even Bernie Sanders gave his support to a nonbinding amendment by Republican Senator Joni Ernst not to raise the minimum wage during the pandemic. He still wants to get the measure in the final budget reconciliation bill which could be a bump in the road to its final passage.