The next stimulus check bill could be coming sooner than previously expected, based on the U.S. Congress' latest moves. On Tuesday evening, Punchbowl News reported that the House of Representatives is drastically altering its schedule for the next few weeks. it looks like these changes are meant to speed up the process of passing another stimulus bill.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the chamber's schedule changes on a caucus call on Tuesday. The House now has no floor votes for the two weeks from Feb. 8 to Feb. 19, instead dedicating that time to their committees. This is significant, as it could signal time for a budget reconciliation package, which would allow Democrats to pass a stimulus package without Republicans' help. Hoyer also canceled the House's two-week recess which was supposed to begin on March 1.
All of this points to the House's intent to support a new stimulus effort by any means possible, without saying so directly. President Joe Biden has laid out a new $1.9 trillion economic aid proposal, including another $1,400 stimulus check for every eligible taxpayer. Democrats have been generally supportive of the plan — especially in the House.
The United States Senate is another story. There, Democrats hold a very narrow majority, since the seats are split exactly 50-50. Only a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris gives them an upper hand, but a bill like this stimulus package could still be blocked by a Republican veto.
According to a report by The Hill, Biden and Democratic lawmakers are considering a work-around to avoid this pitfall: a budget reconciliation. This process has been used to pass big bills in the past, though critics say it would damage Biden's reputation for compromising and reaching across the aisle.
"The decision to use reconciliation will depend on how these negotiations go... This is just the process beginning," Biden told reporters on Monday. his press secretary Jen Psaki later added: "Reconciliation is a means of getting a bill passed. There are a number of means of getting bills passed. That does not mean, regardless of how the bill is passed, that Democrats and Republicans cannot both vote for it."
However it gets done, many Americans are desperate for more economic aid, especially with some critical programs still in danger of shutting down before the coronavirus pandemic is over. There is no word yet on when lawmakers may begin debating Biden's stimulus proposal.