Congress passes Biden's Covid-19 stimulus bill

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 8:24 PM ET, Wed March 10, 2021
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10:36 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

CEOs strongly back Biden's stimulus plan — even more than the public does

From CNN’s Matt Egan

President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room at the White House on March 6 in Washington, DC.
President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room at the White House on March 6 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue plan is getting high marks from business leaders.

Seventy-three percent of the CEOs and business leaders polled during Wednesday's virtual Yale CEO Caucus support Biden's American Rescue Plan. That includes 37% who indicated "strong" support for the package.

This suggests the C-Suite is even more supportive of the plan than Americans at large, as a CNN poll released Wednesday showed 61% of the public supports the legislation.

"This is a big day and we're very thankful for what the administration is getting done and what Congress is getting done with this bill," American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said during the Yale event.

But business leaders are also concerned the Biden plan may be too expensive. Of the leaders polled by Yale, 61% say the $1.9 trillion package goes too far, while just 27% say it is just right.

"But they still like it. There's a paradox," said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale's Chief Executive Leadership Institute.

Parker, the American Airlines CEO, said there will always be those who think something can be done for less.

"That's not the bigger point," he said. "The bigger point is there is broad public support for this bill. And that's certainly true among those of us that are running airlines."

10:30 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

The House is currently debating the bill ahead of a vote on final passage

From CNN's Clare Foran, Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

House TV
House TV

Lawmakers are debating the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan now on the House floor. If passed in the chamber, it will then go to President Biden's desk to be signed into law.

Key features of the package include:

  • Up to $1,400-per-person stimulus payments that will send money to about 90% of households (Use our calculator to see if you'll qualify for a stimulus check)
  • $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits
  • An expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child
  • $350 billion in state and local aid, as well as billions of dollars for K-12 schools to help students return to the classroom, to assist small businesses hard-hit by the pandemic and for vaccine research, development and distribution
  • Extends a 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September
  • Helps low-income households cover rent
  • Makes federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous and provides $8.5 billion to rural hospitals and health care providers

Action on the bill was briefly stalled when Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for a motion to adjourn, a move she has repeatedly used to disrupt the floor schedule and that has frustrated even members of her own party.

The final vote on the motion to adjourn failed 149-235, with 40 Republicans voting against the motion.

10:30 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Greene's procedural vote fails with 40 House Republicans voting against it

From CNN's Kristin Wilson 

The final vote on the motion to adjourn failed 149-235, with forty Republicans voting against the motion, and therefore against their own colleague, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

This is the largest number of Republicans to vote against Greene’s motion to adjourn since the Georgia freshman started pulling the move.

This large group of Republicans to vote against Greene’s floor procedural delay underscores the internal rift that CNN's Manu Raju, Annie Grayer and Ryan Nobles reported yesterday about how some Republicans are frustrated by members of their own party using procedural delays in this way and speaks to the internal struggle the party is facing over how to best leverage their minority.

Greene's move is also a big deal not only because a freshman member is doing this but because this is a move that not everyone in the party agrees with and it's not coming from leadership.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has yet to weigh in publicly about what he thinks about this, and ignored CNN's Daniella Diaz's attempt to ask him questions on this moments ago. Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney told CNN's Annie Grayer yesterday that while this wasn’t leadership’s doing, they understood the frustration of members that was leading them to do this.

CNN's Annie Grayer contributed reporting to this post.

10:15 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

CNN poll: What Americans think about Biden's Covid-19 relief bill 

From CNN's polling director Jennifer Agiesta

The economic relief bill moving rapidly through Congress is broadly popular, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

The popularity of the bill comes as President Biden's approval rating tilts positive around 50 days after he took the oath of office.

Here are some key things shown in the poll:

  • In the new poll, 61% support the $1.9 trillion economic relief bill proposed by Biden and expected to pass in the House Wednesday, and several key provisions of the bill are even more popular.
  • A broad majority of Americans (85%) say they support policies in the bill that would provide larger tax credits for families and make them easier for low-income households to claim, including majorities across party lines (95% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans support it).
  • Around three-quarters favor provisions to provide funding to facilitate a return to the classroom for K-12 students (77%), and sending stimulus checks worth up to $1,400 per person to most families and individuals (76%).
  • Both of those policies also have majority support across party lines (55% of Republicans support each, among Democrats, support tops 90% for each one).
  • A smaller majority, 59%, say they back providing $350 billion in aid to state and local governments. That policy sparks the sharpest partisan divide among the four tested, with 88% of Democrats in favor vs. just 28% of Republicans.

Read more about the poll's findings here.

More on the poll: The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS March 3 through 8 among a random national sample of 1,009 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

9:49 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

White House adviser: Biden rescue plan is "humongous" because the pandemic is a "logistical nightmare"

From CNN’s Matt Egan

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond speaks during a roundtable meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 5.
White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond speaks during a roundtable meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 5. Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg/Getty Images

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond defended the size of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion rescue plan Wednesday as the appropriate response given the scale of the health crisis. 

"It's a humongous package. No one is pretending $1.9 trillion is not a lot," Richmond said during the Yale CEO Caucus.

But Richmond, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, pointed to the enormous challenge in vaccinating 300 million Americans. "It's a logistical nightmare," he said. 

"We went big because we thought it was a big problem. And we're going to go out now and educate people about the benefits of it so they can take part in it," Richmond said.

Of the CEOs and other business leaders polled during the Yale event, 61% said they think the American Rescue Plan goes too far. 

But Richmond compared the pandemic to the devastation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

 "Sometimes in this country people get knocked down to a point where it's beyond their capacity to get up," he said. "If it's beyond their capacity, no matter how hard they work or what they do, at some point the government has to be there to help you."
9:38 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

Conservative Republican calls for motion to adjourn in order to push back timing of Covid-19 bill vote

From CNN's Annie Grayer 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, speaks on the House floor in Washington, DC, on March 10.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, speaks on the House floor in Washington, DC, on March 10. House TV

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia, has called for a motion to adjourn already, a move she has repeatedly used to mess with the floor schedule.

This means that the expected noon ET vote on the Covid-19 relief bill will be pushed back by at least 45 minutes.

We expect voting to begin on the $1.9 trillion dollar package around 12:30 p.m. ET to 1 p.m. ET.  

Greene's decision to again slow down the floor schedule comes as House Republicans remain engaged in an internal struggle over how to assert their power with their robust minority, with a small contingent of conservative hardliners — like Greene— taking extreme measures to disrupt routine business of the chamber, irritating many of their GOP colleagues who are eager to wage a more focused battle over President Biden's agenda.

9:34 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

How the Senate revised the legislation ahead of today's final vote

From CNN's Clare Foran, Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby

The massive Covid-19 relief bill is expected to get final approval by the House after the Senate made a series of revisions to the bill and passed it over the weekend.

Notable changes made by the Senate include narrowing eligibility for stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to jobless benefits and eliminating an increase in the federal minimum wage.

The House had previously passed the bill, including the wage hike, at the end of February.

On stimulus checks: The checks will phase out faster than in previous rounds, completely cutting off individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year and married couples earning more than $160,000 — regardless of how many children they have.

The revisions made by the Senate will leave out about seven million families, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

But the Senate kept the income thresholds the same for who gets the full payments: individuals earning less than $75,000 a year and married couples earning less than $150,000 will receive $1,400 per person, including children.

On unemployment benefits: The Senate changed the legislation to provide a $300 federal boost to weekly jobless payments and extend two key pandemic unemployment benefits programs through Sept. 6.

The first $10,200 worth of benefits will be tax-free for households with annual incomes of less than $150,000. That marked a significant change from the earlier-passed House bill, which would have provided a $400 weekly enhancement through Aug. 29.

On minimum wage: The effort to hike the minimum wage was removed by the Senate after the parliamentarian, a little known but powerful official, ruled it out of bounds under the reconciliation process that Democrats used to advance the legislation in the chamber with only a simple majority and no Republican support.

10:22 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

The House just convened. Here's what you need to know about today's final vote. 

From CNN's Clare Foran, Katie Lobosco and Tami Luhby,

The US Capitol is seen on March 10 in Washington, DC.
The US Capitol is seen on March 10 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The House just convened, and lawmakers are expected to take a final vote today to approve President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. We expect two hours of debate to take place before the vote.

Passage of the bill will mark the first major legislative achievement of the new administration and a Congress that is now under full Democratic control, with narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

Key features of the package include:

  • Up to $1,400-per-person stimulus payments that will send money to about 90% of households
  • $300 federal boost to weekly jobless benefits
  • An expansion of the child tax credit of up to $3,600 per child
  • $350 billion in state and local aid, as well as billions of dollars for K-12 schools to help students return to the classroom, to assist small businesses hard-hit by the pandemic and for vaccine research, development and distribution.
  • Extends a 15% increase in food stamp benefits through September
  • Helps low-income households cover rent
  • Makes federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies more generous and provides $8.5 billion to rural hospitals and health care providers

The legislation is expected to get final approval by the House after the Senate made a series of revisions to the bill and passed it over the weekend. Democrats say that more government action is needed to shore up the economy, aid in the recovery and deliver relief to Americans who continue to be hurt by the pandemic.

Republicans, however, have criticized the plan as a partisan wish list of liberal agenda items that is not sufficiently targeted, and have so far put up a united front in opposition.

Notable changes made by the Senate include narrowing eligibility for stimulus checks, trimming the federal boost to jobless benefits and eliminating an increase in the federal minimum wage. The House had previously passed the bill, including the wage hike, at the end of February.

Read more about today's vote here.

8:52 a.m. ET, March 10, 2021

When Americans can expect to receive new stimulus checks, according to the White House

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

White House press secretary Jen Psaki gave an update on when Americans should expect another stimulus payment, telling reporters on Tuesday that the payments are expected to go out starting this month.

“As the President said last week, once the rescue plan is signed, we’ll be able to start getting payments out this month. Treasury and IRS are working tirelessly to make that happen,” Psaki said, adding that agencies are “building on lessons learned from previous rounds to increase the households that will get electronic payments, which are substantially faster than checks.”

Here are specifics from the White House on how Americans will be able to access their upcoming stimulus payment following its expected passage in the House and then President Biden’s anticipated signing of the American Rescue Plan into law:

  • “For households who have already filed their income tax for 2020, the IRS will use that information to determine eligibility and size of payments. For households that haven’t filed for 2020, the IRS will review records from 2019 to determine eligibility and the size of payment. That includes the use of the non-filer portal for previous rounds of payment,” Psaki said.
  • “For tax returns with direct deposit or bank account information, the IRS will be able to send money electronically, and for those households for which Treasury cannot determine a bank account, paper checks or debit cards will be sent,” she added. 

Psaki said the White House is “not taking anything for granted” as the legislative process plays out but said they’re “pushing through the finish line.”

In the example of a typical family of four with parents making under $150,000 annually, she said that because of the rescue plan, the family should expect $5,600 in direct payments and $2,600 as part of the expanded childcare tax credit.

Read more about the stimulus checks here and see if you qualify to receive a check here