CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECK

Third stimulus check: what time is the vote in the House?

The House of Representatives prepares to vote on President Biden's American Rescue Plan before the $1,400 stimulus check proposal moves to the Senate.

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Third stimulus check: what time is the vote in the House?
Al Drago AFP

The American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden’s new stimulus bill, will be put to the floor in the House of Representatives on Friday as the Democrats look to push through the proposal.

The exact time of the vote in the House has not yet been confirmed, but the floor debate is expected to begin mid-morning. There are currently only three things on the House of Representatives schedule for Friday 26 February, none of which is expected to take too long.

After two unrelated meetings at 9:00am Eastern Time, the House Rules Committee will meet at 9:30am (ET) to discuss the American Rescue Plan. The House Rules Committee must adjudg the constitutionality of bills before there are put to the chamber, but in this instance it is little more than a formality.

Once the debate has been concluded, the House vote on the future of Biden’s stimulus bill is expected to take place on the evening on Friday 26 February.

Stimulus bill will then move to the Senate

The vote in the House is expected to be fairly comfortable for the Democrats, who hold a ten-seat advantage. All Democratic representatives are expected to vote in favour of the legislation and they only require a simple majority to see the bill passed in the House.

The package then moves to the Senate, where they will almost certainly face a tougher task to get Biden’s agenda through. The Upper House usually requires a 60-seat super majority for a bill to be passed, and the Democrats hold only the slimmest advantage.

The Senate is split evenly with 50 senators for each party, but the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris gives the Democrats the advantage. With no Republican lawmakers expected to vote in favour, the Democrats intend to use a budgetary mechanism known as reconciliation which will allow them to push through the bill with just a simple majority.

Senate could introduce stimulus check changes

However to do so they will have to make sure they keep every Democratic senator on board, which may result in some alterations being made. When the Democrats initiated the reconciliation procedure in the Senate earlier this month, they had to undergo a process known as a ‘vote-a-rama’, which allows senators to propose numerous non-binding amendments.

One such amendment, jointly introduced by Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, called for “upper-income taxpayers” to be barred from the upcoming round of stimulus checks.

Upon introducing the amendment, Manchin said: "I don't think a single person on this floor would disagree to target the relief to our neighbours who are struggling."

He added: "There are other families who have not missed a single paycheck as a result of this pandemic. It does not make sense to send a check to those individuals."

The amendment is not binding but after being passed with a resounding 99-1 vote, it is fair to assume that there may be some appetite for the eligibility requirements to be tightened slightly. As it stand the American Rescue Plan would keep the same income thresholds as previous rounds of payments, with an additional 13.5 million adult dependents also eligible for the money.

Manchin is the Democrat considered most likely to oppose the bill, and with such a slender majority it is vital that he is kept onside. If he decides to dig his heels in and demand tougher eligibility requirements are implemented, the Democrats would have little choice but to do so.