President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan is moving forward, raising hopes of another round of stimulus checks for most Americans. The early Saturday.
After that, the Senate is likely to take up the spending package, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, in the first week of March, although some wrinkles have emerged during negotiations. The biggest hitch is a provision in the House measure that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. The Senate bill is unlikely to include the increase after thethat the pay hike can’t be included in the upper chamber’s version of the relief plan.
That means the House will vote on a version that includes the minimum wage boost, while the Senate’s legislation will not. Because of that discrepancy, the House will need to vote on the bill again after the Senate passes it, according to Heights Security analyst Hunter Hammond.
Yet while the loss of the wage increase is a blow to low-income workers, its removal from Senate negotiations could effectively speed up passage of the bill, analysts say.
“This decision, while disappointing to progressives, makes the calculus of passing the bill much easier for Democrats,” Hammond told investors in research note. “They will avoid a difficult battle in the Senate, where two Democratic senators oppose an increase to $15/hour (though at least one of them has said he could support a smaller increase) meaning that the party could have been subject to a brutal internal fight on the topic.”
The bill would also boost weekly unemployment benefits from $300 to $400; provide funding for small businesses, schools, and cities and states; offer families with kids a tax break; and boost government spending on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
The Senate could vote on the package late next week, with the House then casting its final vote over the weekend of March 6 or during the week of March 8, Hammond forecast. Lawmakers are seeking to pass the bill before March 14, when expanded unemployment aid of $300 per week is set to expire.
To be sure, disputes or disagreements could still derail the bill. But Democrats are using a process called budget reconciliation to pass the legislation, which means only a simple majority in the Senate is required for approval, rather than the 60 votes required by most bills to overcome a potential filibuster. In other words, Democrats don’t need support from Republican senators to pass the rescue plan.
If the bill is passed by March 12, the Friday before extra jobless aid is set to expire, stimulus checks could begin hitting bank accounts anywhere from a few days to a week following that, based on the IRS’ time frame for…
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