Biden Poised to Sign Final Stimulus Package With $1,400 Checks Within Days
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The Senate approved the massive rescue package on Saturday after a marathon day of voting. Now the House is expected to vote on the bill in its final form late on Tuesday, after it makes a stop at the Rules Committee. Democrats are rushing to enact the bill ahead of a March 14 deadline for the end of enhanced unemployment benefits.
House Democrats hold a five-seat majority, the slimmest in decades for the lower chamber. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has vowed to approve the rescue bill quickly.
It would provide $1,400 stimulus payments for most taxpayers; $300 weekly federal jobless aid through early September; fund vaccine distribution and testing; an expanded child tax credit; and money for state and local governments.
However, the bill contains some notable differences from the one House Democrats cleared a week ago, which requires some finagling in the Rules Committee. The new legislation does not include a $15 minimum wage, after a Senate official ejected it last month, and it cuts federal unemployment benefits to $300 weekly instead of $400. The duration of unemployment benefits is actually longer than the House version of the bill, running through September 6, but shorter than an earlier Senate proposal to run through October 3.
Despite early concerns that these changes could prompt a revolt among progressives, they still appear to support the rescue package. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the final bill has "retained its core bold, progressive elements."
"Importantly, despite the fact that we believe any weakening of the House provisions were bad policy and bad politics, the reality is that the final amendments were relatively minor concessions," Jayapal said in a Saturday statement.
Jayapal also said in a tweet that she believed the stimulus serves as a "down-payment on the $3-to-$4.5 trillion in stimulus," suggesting progressives will continue pressing for ambitious spending.
Biden said on Saturday that the federal government would start sending stimulus payments "this month" as he touted parts of the bill that are broadly popular with voters. He also said the legislation strongly resembles the initial one he proposed in early January.
"I don't think any of the compromises have in any way fundamentally altered the essence of what I put in the bill in the first place," Biden said on Saturday.