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President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed the House early Saturday morning. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed the House early Saturday morning. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. What’s next?

The Senate will have a little over two weeks to pass the “American Rescue Plan” before current federal unemployment benefits expire.

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A little more than a month into President Joe Biden’s time in the White House, and his promised $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill has finally taken its first major step to becoming a reality for millions of Americans.

Early in the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27, the House of Representatives passed the “American Rescue Plan” by a vote of 219 to 212, with two Democrats joining every Republican in dissenting to the bill.

In addition to sending every eligible American a $1,400 stimulus check, it expands and extends unemployment benefits, and increases the child tax credit.

Twenty-five billion dollars each will also go towards further emergency rental assistance and small business relief, $128 billion will go to K-12 schools trying to reopen for in-person learning, and $39 billion will go to higher education institutions.

Also included, is a contentious, but long-overdue raise of the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15.

Not only has the measure drawn criticism from some of the more moderate Democrats in the Senate, like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, but the nonpartisan Senate Parliamentarian (who advises on the standing rules of the legislative body and its procedures) also ruled on Thursday, Feb. 25 that including a minimum wage hike in the legislation violated budgetary rules.

Still, the Senate could include it anyway.

President Biden has said that while he was disappointed, he would respect the parliamentarian’s ruling.

With his COVID-19 relief bill now past the House, the Senate will have a little over two weeks to deliberate and pass the legislation to maintain the bill’s planned deadline of March 14, when the current federal unemployment benefits expire.

Like in the House, no Republican in the Senate is expected to support the bill, meaning all 50 Democrats must vote in favor before Vice President Kamala Harris steps in to cast the deciding vote and break the tie.

Should the Senate decide to change anything about the bill, it will need to be sent back to the House for approval before it can get to Biden’s desk for full passage.

If that happens by March 14, based on when the previous rollout of previous stimulus checks in January 2021 and April 2020, it could take one to two weeks for them to arrive in people’s pockets.

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