Third stimulus check: when will Congress pass it?

The House of Representatives prepares to vote on Biden's American Rescue Plan, which will provide $1,400 direct payments for eligible Americans.

Third stimulus check: when will Congress pass it?
Doug Mills / POOL EFE

The American Rescue Plan is currently working its way through Congress as the Democrats look to pass President Joe Biden’s stimulus bill. The $1.9 trillion proposal was first announced in early January and, despite not garnering any real support from Republican lawmakers, appears certain to be passed in the House of Representatives in the coming days.

Included in the package is a third round of stimulus checks, this time worth up to $1,400 per person. The eligibility requirements have not yet been finalised but it appears that Biden’s plan will retain the $75,000 income threshold ($150,000 for couples who file jointly) from previous stimulus bills.

During campaigning in the Georgia Senate runoff election Biden and both Democrat candidates promised a new round of stimulus checks if they were voted in. The Democrats duly flipped the Senate, so when will you receive the third stimulus check?

House Committee passes stimulus check proposal

After weeks of talks in Congress the Democrats finally unveiled Biden’s American Rescue Plan in the House of Representatives on Monday, where it was put to a vote in the House Budget Committee. The Committee gave approval for the Democrats to use a budgetary process known as reconciliation to pass the $1.9 trillion bill without bipartisan support.

The bill will now move to the House Rules Committee, where it is again expected to be passed comfortably. Once the package has cleared the two Committees the bill can move to the floor of the House for a full chamber vote.

The bill will be proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and is expected to be passed in a party lines votes on either Friday or Saturday. The House only requires a simple majority for bills to be passed and with a ten-seat advantage the Democrats have a comfortable advantage.

Senate vote on Biden’s stimulus bill

After the American Rescue Plan is passed in the House it will then move to the Senate, where the Democrats hold only the slimmest of majorities. Both parties have 50 members in the 100-seat chamber but the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris tips it in favour of the Democrats.

The reconciliation process allows them to pass Biden’s stimulus bill with just a simple majority, but they will still face numerous attacks from Republican lawmakers who are eager to introduce amendments. In particular, the proposed minimum wage increase to $15 per hour has been criticised for potentially affecting small businesses.

The final decision on the $15 minimum wage may be left to the Senate parliamentarian, a relatively obscure official who will decide what can be passed using reconciliation. The proposal will have to meet the standards of a Senate review known as Byrd’s rule.

Reconciliation is only intended for budgetary policy so the minimum wage hike could be excluded from the bill if it is not deemed to be related to the budget by Elizabeth MacDonough, who currently serves in the role.

But the $1,400 stimulus checks will almost certainly make it into the final version of the bill and should be passed by both Houses on Congress by early March. The Democrats have set a target of 14 March to have the whole proposed passed and signed into law by President Biden.