Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

Third stimulus check: update on relief bill Senate negotiation

As soon as this week the Senate could be voting on the legislation based on Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill.

Third stimulus check: updates on relief bill Senate negotiation
ALEX WONG AFP

The Senate could be voting on the legislation based on Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill. The bill is going to have to evolve into a different sort of beast to appease the relevant crucial swing-votes in the upper chamber.

To that end, Democrats have been having meetings behind closed doors since Monday to figure out the best way to remove some of those key road blocks.

The bill that was passed in the House on Saturday included a $15 minimum wage hike which will have to go and so will a backup plan that would have punished businesses who didn’t raise the wage of their own accord. That’s because moderates won a battle arguing that the wage hike was not appropriate for a bill being passed under the budget reconciliation measure.

Democrats want the bill to pass quickly; and there simply isn’t time to be picking over such controversial legislation when pandemic relief needs to be delivered now.

Have there been negotiations between senators on the stimulus bill?

According to The Hill, Senate Democrats have wasted no time since the bill passed through the House on the weekend. Since Monday negotiations have been ongoing on amendments to the most pressing sticking points.

Several Democrats are arguing the case for targeting the bill further before it’s due for a vote in the Senate later this week.

"We talked about the package and we talked about some ... targeting, targeting dollars," said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

The Democrats need support of every single member to pass the bill, as it’s not expected that any Republican is going to vote in favour; and the Democratic caucus exactly matches the Republican, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting a necessary tie-breaking vote.

As well as discussing the removal of the minimum wage hike, other amendments are on the table, coming from crucial moderate senators such as Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Two possible areas for change include limiting the eligibility for a third stimulus check when it comes to higher income households and the total price tag on the $350 billion allotted for state and local governments.

Manchin has also indicated that he’ll back lowering the unemployment benefit extension from $400 to $300 per week.

Independent Maine senator Angus King said his focus was on looking at how the state and local aid money is going to be allocated.

"I believe there should be some guardrails on those funds," King said.

Tester, Manchin and King were all present in negotiations Monday with President Joe Biden, where all sides listened to the arguments to see the lay of the land.

What happens now?

According to CNN, the likely next steps look like this:

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will bring the package to the floor as soon as Wednesday.
  • That version will include changes suggested by the parliamentarian, which includes removal of the $15 minimum wage increase.
  • Then begins 20 hours of debate.
  • At the end of those 20 hours, the Senate will begin their second vote-a-rama. Given the nature of those marathon votes, we cannot predict exactly when final passage will be, but if past is prologue, look to early Friday morning. The last vote-a-rama ended at 5 a.m. ET.

When will the third stimulus check be sent?

Once the bill gets the final okay from Congress, up on receiving it, Biden is expected to sign the bill. The stated goal has been to pass the bill before 14 March with Democrats expressing confidence that this will happen. Then it will be up to the IRS to start sending out the $1,400 payments to eligible Americans. 

For all of the latest updates on the stimulus checks and tax credits as they happen, follow our dedicated live feed.