Congress Democrats aim to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan next week and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, before unemployment supplement and provisions expanding eligibility for insurance expire on March 14. Are they in time to do so?
On Thursday the Senate took its first important step toward passing Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which includes the much-awaited $1400 stimulus checks, as lawmakers rush to have it enacted in time to prevent unemployment aid from expiring.
According to CNBC, the chamber voted to start the debate on the rescue package, setting the stage for its approval as soon as this weekend. Vice President Kamala Harris had to break a 50-50 tie after a party-vote in the evenly divided Senate.
Pitfalls await, as Senate Republicans have tools at their disposal to delay a final vote on the 628-page bill by hours or even days.
• Debate will not immediately begin. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced Senate clerks to read the massive legislation out loud, which will take at least several hours
• After the discussion period ends, the Senate will hold votes on an indefinite number of amendments to the bill as part of the budget reconciliation process that enables legislation, and Republicans are expected to use amendments to drag out the process.
• Though the procedural vote starts up to 20 hours of debate on the plan, Senators may not use all of that time.
However, regarding these delays, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “No matter how long it takes, the Senate is going to stay in session to finish the bill this week.”
The upper chamber will likely pass a different version of the relief bill, so the House is expected to reconvene on Monday to move toward approving the Senate-passed proposal.
Democrats aim to get the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk before March 14, when a $300 per week unemployment insurance boost and programs extending benefits to millions more people formally expire.