Skip to main content

Biden stimulus check bill passes House: Here's when Senate could vote

A stimulus check overlaid by a dollar bill and a fragment of an American flag.
(Image credit: Rohane Hamilton/Shutterstock)

House lawmakers approved the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package early Saturday morning (2/27). 

The proposal now heads to the Senate, which could vote on its own version of the bill by the end of this week. The House will then have to vote again on the Senate's version the following week. 

As CNN describes, Senate debate is likely to start as early as Wednesday, when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) brings a revised version of the bill — without the proposed $15 minimum-wage provision that the House passed — to the floor. 

Lawmakers will then have 20 hours to debate the bill, followed by a "vote-a-rama," during which any senator can offer amendments and force a vote on each. 

These amendments could include lowering the income ceiling for stimulus check 3, which currently phases out completely for individuals earning more than $100,000 and couples making more than $200,000. 

The weekly federal unemployment-benefit supplement could also be capped at $300 rather than the current $400. Both proposals have received some bipartisan interest. 

The perils of 'vote-a-rama'

The vote-a-rama might even be used by Republican senators to water down the bill or even imperil its repassage in the House. 

More than 800 amendments were proposed on last month's budget resolution that put the relief package in play, though most were nonbinding. This time around, amendments are "live bullets" that could force changes significant enough to create friction between the House Democrats' moderate and progressive wings and further delay final passage. 

Lawmakers are under pressure to get the proposal to President Biden for a signature before March 14, when the current federal unemployment-benefit supplements are set to expire. After the House vote over the weekend, Biden called for "quick action" from the Senate. 

"I have — we have no time to waste," he said.

What's in the bill? 

The House version of the relief package would provide stimulus check 3 — totaling $1,400 — to individuals making up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150,000, with the full amount also going to child and adult dependents. 

The legislation would also raise the federal unemployment benefit to $400 per week. Again, these provisions could change during the Senate vote-a-rama. 

The bill is almost certainly not going to keep the minimum-wage hike, which the Senate parliamentarian ruled against late last week as being outside the bounds of the budget-reconciliation process that Democratic lawmakers are using to pass the stimulus-relief package without GOP support. 

An alternative plan from Senate Democrats to penalize companies that fail to raise wages is also being dropped because trying to include it would delay passage of the overall bill.