The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion stimulus relief plan Friday (Feb. 26), putting Americans one step closer to receiving a third round of direct payments in the coming weeks.
House Democrats unveiled the bill earlier this week with input from nine different committees. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) announced his intention to schedule a vote by the full House on Friday.
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The House will vote on Friday on @POTUS’ #AmericanRescuePlan to end this pandemic and deliver urgently needed relief to America’s families and small businesses. The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law.February 24, 2021
If the House approves the legislation, as it almost certainly will, the bill then goes to the Senate next week. Democratic in both chambers are aiming to pass the package and put it on President Biden's desk before the current federal unemployment-benefit supplements expire March 14.
If the Senate does meet that deadline and Biden signs the bill quickly, then qualifying Americans could start to see their $1,400 checks by the end of March.
Potential stimulus check delays
However, there are a few factors that could delay your payment.
First, the current version of the bill could meet some resistance from centrist Democrats, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), both of whom oppose raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
The stimulus bill is not expected to garner any Republican support and will pass by a narrow margin in the Senate only if all 50 Democrats are on board. But if Senate lawmakers make significant changes to ensure the bill's approval, then the bill would likely have to go back to the House, delaying final passage.
The Senate parliamentarian, a non-partisan officer who interprets the rules of the chamber, could also rule that the minimum-wage provision does not qualify for reconciliation. That's the budget-bill procedure the Democrats are using to get the stimulus bill through the Senate without Republican votes. The parliamentarian's ruling is expected by Friday.
Update: Ruling against minimum-wage hike
The Senate parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, ruled late Thursday (Feb. 25) that the minimum-wage provision, as written, does not qualify for the budget-reconciliation process.
Nonetheless, the House still plans to vote Friday on the bill as written, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said following the parliamentarian's ruling.
"House Democrats believe that the minimum-wage hike is necessary," Pelosi said, according to The Washington Post. "Therefore this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the floor tomorrow."
It's not clear what that means for the bill's prospects in the Senate. Democrats could try to overrule the parliamentarian's ruling, but some Democratic moderates might not go along. The White House previously indicated it would stand by the parliamentarian's ruling, however she ruled.
The minimum-wage provision could also be stripped out by the Senate, which would send the entire bill back to the House for a second vote.
Possible progressive revolt
If either scenario happens, the minimum-wage provision would have to be reduced or even cut. But efforts to trim the minimum wage to satisfy Manchin and Sinema might trigger a revolt by progressive Democrats in the House, who say that a $15 federal minimum wage is non-negotiable.
"It's completely unacceptable. $15 is already a compromise," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Politico. She added that she would nevertheless accept the Senate parliamentarian's ruling if it came down against the minimum-wage provision.
Whether the bill passes earlier or later in March, checks could be delayed due to tax season. The IRS, which issues the stimulus checks, will have its hands full with regular income-tax filings by late March.
Finally, the exact timing of your payment depends on how you're paid. Direct deposits have generally gone out first, followed by physical checks and debit cards. Some taxpayers have received their past payments in different formats, so which group you're in may be difficult to predict.
Why you should file your 2020 taxes soon
If you made less in 2020 than you did in 2019, filing your 2020 tax return before the next stimulus package is approved could net you a larger check. That's because the IRS is likely to use your most recent filed return to calculate your relief payments.
For the third stimulus check, the current legislation says that individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000 will be eligible to receive $1,400. Taxpayers making up to $100,000 and $200,000, respectively, would get pro-rated checks, with payments phasing out completely for those making more.
Both children and adult dependents also would be eligible for the full $1,400. You can figure out what you'll get with this stimulus-check calculator.
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Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.