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Third stimulus check: what's the deadline for the Senate vote?

The $1.9 trillion package proposed by President Biden must be passed by the Senate before the new stimulus checks can be distributed.

The $1.9 trillion package proposed by President Biden must be passed by the Senate before the new stimulus checks and other financial relief can be distributed.

On Thursday 4 March the Democrats are expected to finally introduce President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill in the Senate, beginning the final stage of the legislative process to approve the third round of stimulus checks.

Some late changes to the package, known as the American Rescue Plan, delayed its introduction in the Upper House but Biden is now confident that he has the votes needed to pass the bill.

Movement in the Senate is expected to be slowed as soon as the bill arrives as Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will demand that the entire package is read aloud in the chamber. Senators do have the right to request a full reading but the formality is almost always skipped to avoid wasting time. It is expected to take around 10 hours in this instance.

Democrats set 14 March deadline for new stimulus bill

There is no deadline set for the Senate to vote on the American Rescue Plan, but Biden is desperate to have the package signed into law by 14 March to prevent existing support running out. The main concern is the additional unemployment benefits, the funding for which will expire in just ten days’ time.

Unemployment support is particularly important at the moment with so many relying on federal support in a covid-ravaged jobs market. Last week applications for jobless support were again on the rise with 745,000 first time claimants in the week ending 27 February.

The emergency relief bill signed by former President Donald Trump in late-December secured an additional burst of federal spending to avoid a similar situation, with the previous round of federal unemployment benefits expiring at the end of 2020.

To avoid reaching a similar ‘cliff edge’ in the future Biden’s new stimulus bill will see the unemployment benefits gradually phase out from September, but he needs to get the package signed into law first.

When will the Senate vote on the stimulus check proposal?

After the prolonged reading of the stimulus bill, which is expected to begin on Thursday, the Senate will have a maximum of 20 hours to debate the proposed legislation. Given the lengths that some Republican members are willing to go to it is fair to assume that they will use all of this time.

The bill will then be subject to a process known as vote-a-rama, when senators are able to propose as many amendments as they would look in a spell of rapid-fire votes. This will be similar to the last time the stimulus bill was voted upon in the Senate, which lasted until 5am Eastern Time.

Finally the bill will be put to a vote, potentially sometime this weekend, with each Party’s 50 senators expected to vote along party lines. If that is the case Vice President Kamala Harris, in her role as Senate President, will be called upon to cast the deciding vote and see the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed.


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