Third stimulus check news summary: 07 March 2021

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Third stimulus check: when is it coming out, how much will the payment be, IRS tax, Biden signs | Live updates today

Headlines:

- Senate passes President Biden's $1.9 stimulus bill after marathon session in Congress (full details)

- In a partisan vote all Republicans present voted against the stimulus check proposal

- Biden: Stimulus check payments will be "starting this month" (When?)

- Schumer expects stimulus bill to be signed into law before 14 March unemployment benefits deadline

- Senate vote sees proposed $15 minimum wage increase rejected, with eight Dems voting against

- President Biden approves limiting $1,400 checks to those earning less than $80,000 (full details)

- 70% of Americans in favour of The American Rescue Plan (poll)

- House approve bill that will extend and increase federal pandemic unemployment benefits (more here)

- Get the latest stimulus check news in Spanish - las noticias sobre los cheques de estímulo en español

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 28.95 million/524,362 (live updates)

Have a read of some of the latest related news stories:

JB

Biden: "We'll get checks out the door this month"

Biden called the aid package "urgently needed" and praised the Senate for passing it Saturday, saying it will get "checks out the door" to Americans "this month."

VP Harris calls on House to pass the stimulus bill swiftly

The American Rescue Plan will return to the House of Representatives on Tuesday for a second vote before it can be signed into law by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion package has already been passed by the House but Senate amendments mean they now have to vote on the altered version too. 

Vice President Kamala Harris is eager for the House to pass the bill, which includes the $1,400 stimulus checks and additional unemployment benefits amongst other provisions. The unemployment benefits are particularly urgent as the existing funding runs out on the 14 March. An estimated 40 million Americans have recieved some form of jobless support during the pandemic and they risk suffering a delay in payment if the bill is not signed quickly. 

Who is eligible for the unemployment benefits extension?

Additional unemployment benefits will be extended until September 2021 under the terms of the new stimulus bill that passed the Senate on Saturday. The $1.9 trillion package would provide a $300-a-week federal boost, with the payments ending on 6 September.

There is also a new tax-free unemployment benefits allowance that will allow recipients with an annual household income of less than $150,000 to avoid paying tax on the first $10,200 that they receive. Here's everything you need to know to apply for the payments.

Read more:

 

Manchin objected to stimulus bill "to bring us together"

The fate of the American Rescue Plan appeared to be in jeopardy just days ago as Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin initially refused to support the unemployment benefits included within the package. This threatened the passage of the bill that will provide $1,400 stimulus checks for eligible Americans. 

Speaking to ABC News Manchin defends his position, which resulted in a smaller unemployment benefits provision included in the bill. It was reportedly a phonecall from President Biden that persuaded Manchin to back a revised version of the bill. 

Who voted against President Biden's stimulus bill?

The $1.9 trillion package passed by the Senate on Saturday included the third round of stimulus checks, and had garnered a 76% public approval in recent polls. However the bill only passed by the finest of margins, with 49 senators voting against the American Rescue Plan. 

This was nearly an embarrassing defeat for the Democrats, so what happened in the Senate and who voted for and against the proposal?

Read more:

Tax returns will affect how much you get in the third stimulus check

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was one of 50 Democrat senators who voted to pass the new stimulus bill and is advising anyone who has lost income over the last year to get their tax returns in promptly. The amount of direct support you receive is directly based on your income and household situation, and will be based on the most recent details the IRS have on file. 

This is even more crucial after an amendment to the eligibility requirements tightened the income threshold to exclude around 12 million from recieving the direct support. 

New waiver makes unemployment benefits tax-free

Unemployment benefits were the most controversial feature of the American Rescue Plan when it was put to a vote in the Senate this weekend and threatened to derail President Joe Biden’s bill entirely.

The stimulus bill contained $1.9 trillion of federal funding in total, but it was the introduction of a tax waiver for unemployment benefits recipients that nearly saw the package fail to clear the Upper House.

In the end the Democratic caucus struck a deal to keep the $10,200 tax waiver in the bill, but what does this mean and how can you receive it?

Read more:

RECAP: When will Biden sign the new stimulus check bill?

The Senate may have passed the new stimulus bill but that does not mean that the third stimulus check is on its way just yet. The $1,400 stimulus checks are part of the amended package will have to return to the House for a second vote after alterations were made in the Senate. 

Once done, Biden can sign the bill into law and distribution of the long-awaited payments should begin the following week. 

IRS has already distributed $85 billion in tax refunds

This year’s tax season is expected to be a bumper year for tax refunds and rebates with millions of Americans expecting to get money back after their filing. Those who suffered a loss of income during the pandemic may be due to receive some financial relief while many are claiming missing stimulus check payments in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit.

The data released by the IRS compares the first 15 days of tax season 2021 to the first 33 from the previous year, and it does appear that the speed of processing the tax refunds has quickened this time around.

Read more:

Who qualifies for the $1,400 stimulus checks?

Although the stimulus bill has now been passed by the Senate, some changes have been made to the package that Biden first proposed. Payments will no longer be sent to individuals earning more than $80,000 (rather than $100,000); while couples earning more than $160,000 (as opposed to $200,000) will also be exlcuded.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy indicated as many as 11.8 million adults and 4.6 million children could be left without stimulus checks due to the change.

Around 160 million people would have received the payments under the previous terms of the bill, so this represents a 5% change, said Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

For more information, check out Third stimulus check: how many people will lose out under new income limit?

Democrats begin to make good on stimulus check campaign promise

Rep. Don Beyer, Democratic Representative for Virginia's 8th congressional district, has recounted telling voter's in Pennsylvania that a vote for Joe Biden would bring about larger stimulus checks than the Republicans would offer. It was also a central theme of the all-important Senate runoff election in Georgia, where both Democratic candidates were victorious and handed the Dems unified control in Washington. 

The stimulus bill has been passed by both Houses of Congress, but will now need to return to the House of Representatives so they can vote on the amended bil. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, and Biden has promised that the stimulus checks will start to be sent out later this month. 

"If the American Rescue Plan was the easy bill, things are going to get harder"

Speaking on today's edition of Meet The Press, White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor gave a hint of what might be in store when future legislation goes to the Senate. "It is true that the bottom line is that President Biden was able to push through and is about to get this $1.9 trillion relief but it too so much. Just look at Joe Manchin to see that he is someone who is telling you he wants to be the responsible middle, saying that he wants to be balanced. Those are not the words that the Democratic base wants to hear, especially when they think of bigger bills and more ambitious issues, like immigration, infrastructure. This bill, on Covid, is happening when one in three people in America know someone who died of Covid. Senator Barraso was very clear that he is very open to saying that this is a mistake and that Republicans are not going to be a party that is going to say 'yes we want to be bipartisan' and we want to sit down and work with this president and do some things that are on the Democratic agenda. I think there really is the sense that, if this was the 'easy bill' where the pandemic was top on their minds for so many Americans, it just seems that things are going to get even harder when you look at infrastructure and especially, when you look at immigration, an issue that Republicans have seized on".

senate

Marathon fight to pass relief bill tests Democrats' majority

The battle to pass a Covid-19 relief bill showed how hard things will be for US President Joe Biden's Democrats in Congress, facing opposition from right and left as they try to score big wins with small majorities.

'This was a reminder yesterday that in a 50-50 Senate, if any one member changes their mind on an amendment, or a vote, or an issue, it can change the outcome,' Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat, told reporters.

As Democrats now turn to other priorities such as infrastructure spending and immigration reform, Senate rules require 60 votes for most legislation to advance. Generally, the 50 Democratic Senate votes plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris will not be enough. A procedural maneuver called 'reconciliation' allowed Democrats to get around the 60-vote hurdle for the Covid-19 stimulus. The partisan wrangling over the COVID-19 bill may have poisoned the well for bipartisanship in the near term. Republicans say the Democrats were not serious about finding a bipartisan consensus on the coronavirus measure.

Democrats questioned why Republicans opposed the coronavirus bill when the aid had broad public support. “As long as Democrats make an effort to be bipartisan in the eyes of the American people, then they are going to be forgiven if they need to take a party-line vote in order to push forward an agenda that is going to help the American people,' said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson.

 

 

Is there any way the federal minimum wage can be increased?

The federal minimum wage remains frozen at $7.25 - it has been stuck at that rate since 2009. Democrats' plans to raise it to $15 by 2025 under the Raise the Wage Act were shot down before even reaching the Senate. But raising the minimum wage is a complex issue because it can have knock-on effects on unemployment figures, pension contributions and inflation. There was some interesting chat on Twitter today about the low-paid earners in US and what the solution might be. 

The Senate will soon vote on the third stimulus check, but it is not too late to get any previous direct payments paid as a Recovery Rebate Credit by the IRS.

More information here:

US jobs market sprouting signs of recovery

The promise of stimulus money plus a drop in the number of Covid-19 cases has brought a feeling of optimism to the US economy. Unemployment stands at 6.2% - much lower than experts had forecast, with new start-up companies thriving. These could be signs that economic recovery is well underway, The Economist reports.

Manchin defends his vote that resulted in reduced unemployment benefits

Sen. Joe Manchin defended his vote which resulted in modifications to  unemployment benefits included in the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. The Senate changed bonus benefits in the bill from $400 to $300 but for a longer duration.

Talking to ABC News' This Week programme presenter Martha Raddatz, Manchin, whose decision brought the Senate to a standstill for 10 hours, explained, "I didn't do anything intentionally whatsoever, I did everything I could to bring us together so we have more support. Ad the public would get the help that is needed. We have so many ways that we are helping the public with this piece of legislation. Going from 300 to 400, there is going to be a glitch where people are going to be without unemployment checks for a while - 300 kept it systematically and kept a smooth transition through that. Also, we did things with Child Tax Credits that we have never done before which I am so proud of because we are going to help families with children, lift children out of poverty. This was a targetted piece of legislation, because people needed help, and we helped every scenario".

Tax relief and extensions for winter storm victims in Texas

Victims of last month's winter storms in Texas will have until 15 June 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced - a two-month extension to this year's deadline.

Individuals and businesses in a federally-declared disaster area who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them either for this year (in this instance, the 2021 return normally filed next year), or on the return for last year.  

Stimulus checks will start going out this month - Biden

Wondering when you might receive your $1400 stimulus check? According to President Joe Biden, they will start to be distributed in the next 2-3 weeks.

Sen. Angus King: Relief bill will help lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty  

Maine Sen. Angus Bill voted in favour of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion bill and wrote in an article for The Portland Press Herald that some of the legislation in the bill, such as adjusting Child Tax Credit, will help to lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty.

"This legislation is expensive, but as we’ve seen over the last year, the cost of inaction is even higher. Every day we delay in confronting this virus, we lose more lives and suffer more economic damage. At the end of the day, I worked hard on this bill and voted for it because Maine people need help. This bill will meet their need, and set us on the path to putting this dark chapter of American history behind us once and for all. ," he wrote. 

On Saturday the Senate passed a measure to expand child tax credits for 2021 as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Read more here:

Joni Ernst: "An unfortunate exercise in partisanship"

Iowa Senator Joni K. Ernst joined Mitch McConnell in condemning how the covid-19 relief bill was rushed through the Senate without more in-depth debate, calling it "a very, very unfortunate exercise in partisanship".

McConnell slams Democrats' Covid-19 Relief strategy

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the way Republicans pushed through a $1.9 trillion relief package, on a "razor-thin majority" in the Senate on Saturday. Biden's American Rescue Plan was passed by a slim 50-49 vote. A move which was critisiced by McConnell, who argued it "jammed through unrelated liberal policies they couldn’t pass honestly" and their use of the reconciliation process undermined the country's bipartisan system. "The Senate has never spent $2 trillion in a more haphazard or less rigourous way," MConnell wrote in a statement. "We could have worked together to speed up victory but Democrats decided their top priority wasn't pandemic relief, it was their Washington wish-list". 

Rev. Warnock welcomes stimulus bill passing the Senate

Little over two months ago Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their Senate runoff races in Georgia to hand the Democrats the control of the Senate, and unified control in Washington. They ran on the promise that doing so would allow President Biden to pass a much more generous stimulus bill than they would otherwise be able to. 

Despite having to make some concessions on who qualifies for the stimulus checks and the size of unemployment benefits, the support is clearly much greater than would have passed a Republican Senate. The American Rescue Plan has been subject to votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and all 259 Republican Representatives and Senators voted against the package. 

"The most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country"

Bernie Sanders cheered American Rescue Plan which was passed by the Senate yesterday but must return to the House for one final vote in the next couple of days.

"Mr. President, I rise in support of the technical amendment. and very strong support of the overall bill, the American Rescue Plan. Let's be clear, this bill that we are completing now is the most significant piece of legislation to benefit working people in the modern history of this country. And not only are we going to go forward to crush this pandemic, to rebuild our economy and to get our kids back to school safely, we are going to do something even more important. We are going to help restore faith in the United States government among the people of our country. The people are hurting and today, we respond".

$1.9 trillion Relief Bill passed, when will it be signed?

After resolving the internal differences with the Democratic party the Senate was able to pass the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Saturday.

Manchin threat sees unemployment benefits cut in stimulus bill

President Biden's new stimulus bill was finally passed by the Senate on Saturday but a Republican amendment threatened to derail the whole package. A record-breaking 12-hour Senate vote was needed to find a solution but the resultant amendment reduces the jobless provision in the $1.9 trillion bill. 

The package will now return to the House of Representatives for a vote on the amended bill, and President Biden will be hoping that no Democrats vote against the alterations. Biden said he was happy with the changes but they take a considerable amount from the weekly payments that he proposed initially.

Read more:

American Rescue Plan will put US "back on the road to recovery" - Biden

President Joe Biden posted a video message to praise the Senate's vote on his $1.9 trillion relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. "It puts us back on the road to recovery and beyond that," he began. "Setting down new principles, to care for our children, our families and health care. There is so much more in it. But the bottom line is, it's going to start and it's going to start almost immediately. So thank you very much, keep the faith. There is so much more we have to do but this is consequential".

Republican Senator says convicted killers should not receive stimulus checks

Republican Senator Tom Cotton has criticised the move to hand out stimulus checks to all Americans as it would not exclude serial murderers and criminals on death row. He posted two messages on Twitter on Saturday after the Senate approved President Joe Biden's 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. He cited two examples: "Aaron Shamo was sentenced to life in prison for selling "1 million fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills to unsuspecting buyers." He'll be getting a $1,400 stimulus check while in prison from the Democrats' "COVID relief" bill".

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus relief bill progress and a proposed third round of stimulus checks.

On Saturday the Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with with a narrow 50-49 vote. The bill must now go back to the House before it is ready for President Joe Biden to sign.

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