On Saturday, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a $1.9 trillion economic aid package, including $1,400 stimulus checks, in a narrow 50-to-49 party line vote.
“This bill will deliver more help to more people than anything the federal government has done in decades,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. This $1,400 stimulus check, if passed, would be the biggest direct payment of the pandemic.
The massive aid package now heads back to the Democratic-controlled House, where it’s expected to consider the Senate’s bill on Tuesday. Democratic leaders hope to have the package on President Joe Biden’s desk by March 14—when several pandemic unemployment benefits are set to expire.
The swift passage in the Senate keeps alive the possibility of delivering checks before the end of March. While it took two weeks for the first round of checks to go out in March 2020 after the passage of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, the government has since sped up its timetable. After the passage of the $900 billion aid package in December 2020, direct deposits began within four days. That means if Biden signs this package by March 14, the Treasury Department should be able to blast out the $1,400 checks this month.
Biden said Saturday he’ll see to it that the checks go out this month.
As written in the bill, $1,400 direct payments would go to single filers earning up to $75,000 and $2,800 to couples filing jointly with incomes under $150,000. The amounts are based on adjusted gross income, which can be found in your federal tax filing. For those who qualify, they’d get an additional $1,400 per dependent—regardless of whether the dependent is an adult or a child.
Above that income level, checks would be reduced and phase out altogether for individuals with incomes above $80,000 or $160,000 for joint filers. Those cutoffs are lower this time around—something that was pushed for by moderate Senate Democrats. In total, lowering the cutoffs could exclude roughly 12 million adults and roughly 5 million child dependents getting the checks, according to the nonpartisan think tank Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
The bill also includes money for vaccines, education, and $350 billion in funding for state and local governments. In addition, the package would extend $300 weekly enhanced unemployment payments, Pandemic Unemployment Insurance (PUA), and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits (PEUC) through September. PUA expands who is eligible for unemployment benefits to include people like business owners, part-timers, and freelancers, while PEUC grants an extra weeks of jobless benefits to recipients once they exhaust their state benefits.