WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take up the Senate's version of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which includes a third round of stimulus checks, on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office said Tuesday.
The Senate passed its COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday, with a party line 50-49 vote, with several changes compared to what the House originally passed. Instead of $400 weekly emergency unemployment checks, the Senate bumped it down to $300. It also removed the push for a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.
In both versions of the bill, individual tax filers making up to $75,000 per year will get $1,400 stimulus checks. Couples making up to $150,000 will get $2,800. There will also be $1,400 tacked on for each dependent in the household.
Under the Senate bill, the amount for stimulus checks would be gradually reduced until it reaches zero for people earning $80,000 and couples making $160,000. Those ceilings were higher in the House version.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday that the House would vote on the legislation "Wednesday morning at the latest," according to Reuters. She said it only depends when the Senate sends the legislation.
The House Rules committee is meeting Tuesday to set the parameters for floor debate.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the House will meet Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Eastern to debate and vote on the bill's final passage. Once the bill is approved by the House it goes to Biden's desk for his signature.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told NBC that he was "110% confident that the votes exist to pass the American Rescue plan."
"When I was elected, I said we were going to get the government out of the business of battling on Twitter and back in the business of delivering for the American people," Biden said after the huge bill passed the Senate on Saturday. "Of showing the American people that their government can work for them.”
The nearly $2 trillion package plans to help stop the pandemic and jumpstarting hiring, and money in the rescue package is supposed to start fixing income inequality, halve child poverty, feed the hungry, save pensions, sustain public transit, let schools reopen with confidence and help repair state and local government finances.
“People have lost faith government can do good for them,” says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who spoke daily with Biden while ushering the bill through the Senate last weekend. Now, as vaccines become more available and other changes take place, "people are going to see that government actually is making their lives better — which is how Americans used to think of it, and we’ve gotten away from it.”
However, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell argues against the package as missing the moment — too big at a time when the virus is showing signs of easing and the economy is poised to come “roaring” back.
Instead of working across the aisle toward unity, as Biden has promised, McConnell says Democrats are “ramming through what they call ‘the most progressive domestic legislation in a generation,'" quoting the White House chief of staff.
“They explained their intent very clearly: to exploit this crisis as ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,'” McConnell says. This is the first COVID-19 bill that had zero support from Republicans in the House or Senate.
When will the third stimulus check be sent?
Democrats and Biden want to have the COVID-19 relief plan approved by Sunday, March 14. That's when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. As things stand on Tuesday, it appears Democrats should make that March 14 deadline.
During the first round of stimulus checks in April 2020, it took about two weeks for the federal government to start distributing the money. It took around one week for the second round of checks, worth $600, in early January.
If the IRS is able to keep with previous timelines, Americans could start receiving stimulus checks from late March to early April. For example, if the stimulus package is signed into law by March 14, based on previous relief plans, the first direct deposits may go out the week of March 22.
One possible complicating factor is that this round of stimulus checks will likely be going out while the IRS is dealing with tax returns. Though it's unclear how big of an impact that could make on stimulus checks going out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.