Washington, D.C. is preparing for President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan will go into effect immediately after he takes office. The president can introduce proposals, but Congress ultimately writes legislation, called bills. Then it will vote on it in both houses, and finally, if it passes, move it on to the president to sign it into law.
With so many steps left to take, experts say Americans may not see the additional stimulus funds, which include another $1,400 in stimulus payments for most Americans making $75,000 or less in gross income ($150,000 or less for couples filing jointly), until early-to-mid February, experts say.
In addition to $1,400 stimulus, provisions of Biden’s proposal include:
- Additional unemployment benefits of up to $400/week through September
- Extension of eviction moratorium
- $20 billion in funding for vaccines
- $50 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing
- $15/hour federal minimum wage
- Expanded tax credits for low-income taxpayers
Let’s look at some of the factors that could affect the movement of the bill into law.
If Democrats call for reconciliation, the bill could pass faster.
If Congressional Democrats decide to limit the provisions of the bill to those immediately affecting aid for Americans and for businesses, including those $1,400 stimulus checks, they could call for a “reconciliation.” The bill would only need a simple majority to pass, which means it wouldn’t require Republican support.
If unemployment increases, the bill could move faster.
If February’s jobless report shows increased unemployment claims and the economy doesn’t seem to be looking up, Democrats and Republicans may be more willing to work together to pass the legislation.
Impeachment proceedings could slow the vote on the stimulus.
With impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump taking focus off the stimulus package, a trial could slow the passing of the stimulus bill into law by dividing Congress’ attention.
If Biden calls for bipartisan support of the bill, it may not pass.
If Biden and Congress choose not to opt for reconciliation to pass only portions of the bill that relate directly to coronavirus relief right now, Biden would need at least 10 Senate Republicans to vote in favor. This opens the bill to increased debate, the possibility of a filibuster and ultimately, uncertainty over whether the bill would pass.
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