WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Now that he’s assumed office, President Joe Biden is expected to try and fast-track his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, which includes a $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans.
Though it’s not the $2,000 many people hoped for, the new direct payment equals the $2,000 figure when combined with $600 stimulus checks that went out earlier this month.
With Democrats in control of both the presidency and Congress, the overall plan has a good chance of passage. However, the process may take more time than many Democratic leaders hope. The checks are part of a complex and layered plan that includes increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding paid leave for workers and increasing tax credits for families with children.
Analysts noted that a one-off bill focusing only on stimulus checks might be passed quickly. Something totaling nearly $2 trillion may take days if not weeks of debate and discussion.
But before any of that happens, the two new Democratic senators from Georgia need to take office. The results of the race have been certified, and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock are expected to be sworn in as early as Wednesday afternoon.
This means February would likely be the earliest we could see a package approved.
Once approved, the U.S. Department of the Treasury could distribute checks in a matter of days. They’ve improved the processing speed substantially from the first round of $1,200 checks to the more recent $600 payment.
There is some concern that impeachment proceedings against the outgoing president could delay the process. It’s expected that Donald Trump’s trial in the Senate would begin at some point in the next few weeks. Of course, whether it proves to be a distraction in the stimulus process remains to be seen.
The coronavirus relief plan comes as a divided nation is in the grip of the pandemic’s most dangerous wave yet. So far, more than 400,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., and recent government numbers reported a jump in weekly unemployment claims, to 965,000, a sign that rising infections are forcing businesses to cut back and lay off workers.
Under Biden’s multipronged strategy, about $400 billion would go directly to combating the pandemic, while the rest is focused on economic relief and aid to states and localities.
About $20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, on top of some $8 billion already approved by Congress. Biden has called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.