The U.S. Senate has approved a budget resolution towards fast-tracking President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, including a third round of stimulus checks worth up to $1,400.
The Associated Press reports the measure passed, 51-50, after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote, her first, around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Senators voted on amendments that would define the contours of the eventual bill for additional Covid-19 aid after a grueling all-night session.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called passage of the resolution the “first big step to putting our country back on the road to recovery.”
“Our caucus worked together in unity to respond boldly to this crisis, and we are grateful President Biden put together the American Rescue Plan. We will keep working hard to make it law,” Schumer added on Twitter.
The budget next returns to the Democrat-controlled House for approval due to Senate changes. Then the bill will be drafted by several congressional committees with a goal of being approved by March, when the current round of unemployment assistance and other pandemic relief expires. Biden is expected to talk with the House committee chairs about the package at the White House on Friday.
Biden first proposed the $1.9 trillion relief package last month and shot down recent efforts by 10 Republican senators to reduce it to $618 million. Biden’s proposal included $400 in weekly unemployment benefits; $70 billion towards vaccination centers and Covid-19 testing; $130 billion to help schools reopen safely; $15 billion in small business grants; $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments; raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour (from the current rate of $7.25 an hour); reinstating paid sick leave; expanding the child care tax credit; and $15 billion to help states subsidize child care for low-income families along with a $25 billion fund to help child care centers in danger of closing.
Biden’s plan also includes $1,400 stimulus checks that, combined with the $600 direct payments issued in late December, will provide $2,000 to help Americans affected by the pandemic.
“We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most,” Biden said in January. “The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough if you still have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. Even for those who have kept their jobs, these checks are really important.”
CNBC reports fewer Americans may qualify for the $1,400 payments, which could start phasing out for individuals earning over $50,000 or married couples earning up to $100,000 (instead of $75,000 and $150,000 in the previous rounds). Final details have not been announced.
Married couples could receive $1,400 per child, though, and the third round of checks is also expected to include eligible adult dependents for the first time. The previous two rounds were limited to children under age 17, so parents with college-age students can expect more money.
The first round of stimulus checks, which gave qualifying American adults a one-time direct payment of $1,200 plus $500 for each child under the age of 17, was part of Congress’ $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March. A second round of stimulus checks worth $1,200 was approved in the HEROES Act in May, but legislation stalled for months and the December package cuts those direct payments in half.
When will I get my stimulus check? After the second round was approved and signed by President Donald Trump, payments started going out within days. The first round of checks took weeks to begin arriving, even via direct deposit, but millions could receive the third round as soon as March if they already verified their information on the IRS “Get My Payment” site and if Congress finalizes the new bill this month.