WASHINGTON D.C. - Congressional Democrats are pushing ahead with passing President Biden's nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, paving the way for a third $1,400 stimulus check for millions of Americans — and households could start to receive the money in just a few weeks.
Once Congress approves the emergency aid bill, Biden needs to sign the legislation to release the money. The IRS and Treasury Department would then distribute the cash payments through direct deposit, mailed checks and prepaid debit cards.
The federal government took about two weeks to start distributing the first round of $1,200 payments in April, and about one week to send the second round of checks, worth $600, in January. House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., told Yahoo Finance last week that Americans can expect to receive the money "within a week" of the bill's passage.
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The White House is eyeing the first week of March to push through the bill and begin to enact relief measures, as supplemental unemployment benefits are currently poised to expire on March 14. Assuming Congress meets that deadline, the money could arrive as soon as mid-March.
On Friday morning, the Senate took a pivotal step to passing the $1.9 trillion measure without any Republican buy-ins, approving a budget resolution that will allow them to pass the measure using a procedural tool known as "reconciliation." The Senate passed the budget resolution 51-50 on a party-line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
House committee chairs and Democratic leaders met with Biden at the White House, during which Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was her goal to have a bill approved and send it to the Senate within two weeks as lawmakers look to enact the proposal before the next unemployment cliff on March 14.
The legislation is expected to allocate $160 billion for vaccine distribution, boost expanded unemployment benefits to $400 a week through September and include a third stimulus check worth $1,400. It will add to the nation's already-ballooning deficit, which hit a record $3.1 trillion in fiscal year 2020, not including the $900 billion relief package passed in December.
It's still unclear which Americans will qualify for the payment. Biden has maintained the size of the check -- $1,400 -- won't change, but has indicated that he's open to limiting eligibility for the money. The administration has declined to comment on what it thinks the income threshold should be for the payments.
"Further targeting means not the size of the check, it means the income level of people who receive the check," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during a briefing last week. "That's something that is under discussion."
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