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Biden stimulus update: Now that impeachment is over, where’s my check?

Extra unemployment benefits expire the second week of March, so Democrats will have to act fast. But votes are crucial.

Biden stimulus update: Now that impeachment is over, where’s my check?
[Photo: Alejandro Barba/Unsplash; Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash]
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Now that the whole impeachment thing is over, did you think that Congress would buckle down, pass a stimulus package for coronavirus relief, and allow the Treasury to grace your bank account with a $1,400 payment right away? That would be nice, but unfortunately Congress is not in session this week.

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Wait, what?

They’re not in D.C. It’s a so-called “state work” week, where senators go home to their families. Senators worked through the weekend to acquit former president Donald Trump in his historic second impeachment trial, and some senators reportedly aimed to get home for Valentine’s Day.

Is anyone on the ball with the stimulus?

Yep, President Joe Biden. Last night at a town hall in Wisconsin he pitched Democrats’ $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to Americans, saying, “Now is the time we should be spending. Now is the time to go big.” This recommendation is in line with advice from a number of top economists, who have encouraged ongoing direct spending to Americans until the crisis concludes.

So when can I expect a payment?

Extra unemployment benefits from the December stimulus bill expire the second week of March, so Democrats are aiming to have funds going out by then. But know that in order for that to happen, Congress folk need to work together.

They never do that. How would that work?

Democrats are gunning for a February 26 House vote on the stimulus bill, followed by a Senate vote, which is fast by congressional standards. (Recall it took Congress most of 2020 to pass a second stimulus package.)

Didn’t Congress already pass a stimulus bill?

Not quite. Earlier this month, through a bit of legislative creativity, Congress approved a budget resolution, which allows the House to now create the budget for the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. Next, that budget will be voted on—but, because of the aforementioned creativity, it will only require 51 Senate votes to pass (and not 60).

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So all 50 Senate Democrats need to back it?

Yes.

Uh-oh

Yes. This gives a considerable advantage to conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is against details in the bill such as raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

So when’s my stimulus payment coming?

Don’t plan on any cash before April, but know that miracles do happen. We’ll keep you posted with new information.