The March 12 date is another key date in the proceedings in the Senate regarding the Biden Administration’s third stimulus check and economic rescue package.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress are aiming to have the final stimulus package of $1,400 stimulus checks passed in both chambers by March 12.
This date is key in the process for the law to take effect by the March 14 date when the extra weekly unemployment benefits under the second stimulus law passed last December expire.
The Democrats’ intention is for the Senate to pass its version before March 12 so that it can pass back to the House of Representatives with the amendments made in the sister body to be ratified.
Once the processes are completed in both chambers, then the bill will go to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature and go into effect.
Everything will depend on the discussion in the Senate
But confirmation of the previous schedule will depend on how long the discussion in the Senate extends, where Democrats will most likely avail themselves of the “reconciliation” mechanism, which allows them to pass budget-related bills by a simple majority. Under this means, Democrats will not need Republican votes to pass the $1.9 trillion economic relief package.
What is certain is that Republicans are determined to stall the process.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told a Wisconsin radio station Wednesday that he planned to drag out the process by requiring a reading of the entire bill, rather than just the title, as usual. The House version of the bill is 630 pages long.
At the same time there are several thorny issues that are part of the discussion and could translate into a longer debate in the Senate.
Precisely, the income thresholds for eligibility is one of the topics that divides not only Republicans and Democrats, but Democrats themselves.
New income limits on eligibility
This week, Biden met with more conservative Democrats in the Senate to negotiate new limits on income levels so that the check would apply to fewer Americans.
The new provisions being considered by the Biden Administration state that those earning more than $80,000 a year would not be eligible for the check.
However, people whose income totals up to $75,000 will receive the full payment as under the previous two laws. From there, the payment would be gradually reduced until Americans earning $80,000 would not receive the payment. For couples, the maximum threshold for receiving stimulus funds would be $160,000.
“Plan B” for federal minimum wage at $15
Another issue that could complicate the discussion is the exclusion of the $15 minimum wage increase recommended by the Senate legislature.
Some more progressive senators such as Bernie Sanders plan to integrate provisions in the legislation to indirectly integrate the increase to the federal minimum wage.
Lawmakers’ “Plan B” on the minimum wage would add provisions to the House-passed bill to penalize large companies that pay low wages to their employees.