CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: can the payment be approved in the House vote on Friday?

The House of Representatives is expected to pass the American Rescue Plan, but the stimulus bill must also be passed by the Senate before it is signed into law.

Third stimulus check: can the payment be approved in the House vote on Friday?
KEVIN LAMARQUE REUTERS

On Friday the House of Representatives is expected to hold a vote on the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion bill that includes the third round of stimulus checks.

President Joe Biden had promised to pass the new direct payments as soon as he entered office but the lack of bipartisan support for his proposal and the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump disrupted his plan.

The $1,400 stimulus checks will be the largest to date when they are eventually signed into law by Biden, but before that they must pass both Houses of Congress.

Stimulus bill clears Committees ahead of House vote

The American Rescue Plan began life in Congress in the House of Representatives, where it had to clear a number of House Committees before it can move to the floor of the chamber for a vote.

It was first sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, where members voted on a portion of the package which includes the $1,400 stimulus check payments. In a 24-18 party lines vote the proposal was passed, which allows Biden to repurpose tax revenue to pay for the $1.9 trillion package.

Rep. Richard E. Neal, the committee chairman, said of the decision: "Over the last two days, the Ways and Means Committee has considered aggressive, science-based solutions that will deliver the urgent relief our country so desperately needs.”

The bill then went to the House Budget Committee, which also voted to pass the package along party lines. The approval from the Budget Committee is particularly crucial because it allows the Democrats to use reconciliation to pass the bill in the Senate.

On Wednesday the House Rules Committee released a new text of the American Rescue Plan, which includes additional measure that bring the overall price of the bill over the $1.9 trillion previously agreed. However as that is the amount agreed elements will have to be hastily cut from the package to ensure that reconciliation can be used to push it through.

American Rescue Plan will move to the Senate after House vote

The House vote should be fairly comfortable for the Democrats, who require just a simple majority to get the legislation passed. They hold a ten-seat majority and no dissentions are expected for what is a crucial piece of the Biden administration’s agenda.

The bill will then move to the Senate where the margin of error is much tighter. The 100-seat chamber is split evenly with 50 Senators from each party, but the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris gives the Democrats a slender advantage.

However that does mean that they need every single Democrat in the Senate to vote in favour, which means they may have to shed some provisions from the package. For example Sen. Joe Manchin has already voiced his concern about the proposed minimum wage rise to $15 per hour, which may not make it to the final bill.