President Joe Biden has already made it clear that a big stimulus package with a big third stimulus check is one of his top priorities. The question is, when. There have been whispers that Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal may not become a workable bill until late February or early March, but a new report suggests that a standalone bill including just a third stimulus check and funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution could make it to a vote in the House of Representatives as early as next week, according to Punchbowl News, a political report founded by former members of Politico.
If that were to happen, it raises even more questions about whether it would have a serious chance to pass in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans are split evenly at 50-50, and how fast the IRS could send the third stimulus check, which Biden has proposed for up to $1,400 per qualified adult.
There’s also the question of how the timing of a third payment could also influence how the IRS distributes the money — as a rebate that’s part of tax season 2020 or as a separate payment through direct deposit, physical checks and EIP cards? We’ll walk through the what we know about how the IRS organized the first and second stimulus checks that can help us anticipate what could happen next. (And here are the top facts you should keep in mind and how you’ll need to contact the IRS if you think you’re missing all or some of your first two payments.) This story has been updated with new information.
What’s this about a ‘skinny’ COVID-19 bill for stimulus checks and vaccines?
There’s no official word yet, but the suggestion was been reported on Wednesday by Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman (previously of Politico’s Playbook). Sherman tweeted about the possibility of House Democrats considering a move to put a targeted, “skinny” bill on the table for stimulus checks and coronavirus vaccine distribution, as well as discussions Biden’s administration may have had with Rep. Tom Reed as a toe in the water. We’ll have to see whether the chatter comes together.
There’s certainly precedent for a standalone, or at least smaller, bill of some sort in the House of Representatives. The House passed the CASH Act on Dec. 28, 2020, a bill that would have amended the Dec. 2020 stimulus package signed by former President Donald Trump to bump the $600 upper limit of the second stimulus check to $2,000 instead — by replacing “$600” with “$2,000” on every mention and “$1,200” (the amount allotted to married couples) with “$4,000). It wasn’t taken up in the Senate before the new term began Jan. 3.
Or, could Congress approve a third stimulus check in February or March?
If a third stimulus check sticks with Biden’s $1.9 trillion package proposal, it will take more time to pass, going through the typical process of negotiation, and crafting legal language that can come under extraordinary scrutiny and debate.
“The package was designed with the $1.9 trillion as a starting point,” Jen Psaki, the new White House Press Secretary, said during the first daily press briefing of the new administration. “This is a discussion, it’s a conversation, and [Biden] is no stranger to the process of bill-making… Rarely does it look exactly like the initial package that is proposed.”
According to a Jan. 19 newsletter from Punchbowl News, “House Democrats now tell us they are aiming to pass Joe Biden’s massive Covid relief package by late February or early March, according to multiple sources involved in the effort.”
Part of the equation is how long a debate within Congress could drag on. After more than seven months of heated and at times bitter negotiations between Democrats and Republicans over December’s stimulus bill, it’s impossible to know how long it will take to see Biden’s stimulus proposal — or a future version of it — go through the paces to become a bill, and for that bill to go up for a vote in the House of Representatives and Senate and become law.
With the Democrats’ slim margin of control over both chambers in Congress, Biden may have an advantage getting his objectives approved, though opposition is already vocal from members of his own party over the $1,400 per person maximum, with some pushing for $2,000 per person and at least one other questioning why Americans need a third check…Read more>>