The latest on the Covid-19 stimulus bill

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Meg Wagner, Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, March 2, 2021
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10:01 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Biden will talk with Senate Democrats today on Covid-19 relief and deliver remarks on the pandemic 

From CNN's Clare Foran

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden is expected to huddle with Senate Democrats today as the chamber gears up to pass the White House's top legislative priority: a major pandemic relief plan.

Biden is slated to join Senate Democrats virtually during their caucus lunch at 1:10 p.m. ET afternoon, a meeting that comes as Democrats face pressure to stick together to pass the sweeping rescue package. Biden also held a virtual meeting with a group of Senate Democrats on Monday.

Biden is also scheduled to deliver remarks on the pandemic at 4:15 p.m. ET from the White House.

Some more background: The President's ongoing outreach underscores the important role the narrow Democratic majority will play in getting the Covid package across the finish line.

The caucus has no room for error in a chamber with a 50-50 partisan split and Vice President Kamala Harris acting as the tiebreaker.

The House passed the President's $1.9 trillion package early Saturday morning with zero Republicans voting in favor. Now, all eyes are on the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer could bring the Covid package — which includes direct checks, small business aid, and funding for schools, state and local governments and vaccine distribution — to the floor as early as Wednesday.

8:31 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

These pandemic unemployment benefits will expire on March 14 if Congress doesn't pass another relief bill 

From CNN's Tami Luhby and Katie Lobosco

Millions of Americans will start running out of pandemic unemployment benefits on March 14, putting increased pressure on the Senate to quickly pass its version of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

The jobless payments are among the first federal lifelines from December's $900 billion stimulus package set to expire, with additional provisions for expanded paid sick and family leave, small businesses, food stamps, housing protections and other relief lapsing in the following weeks and months.

Out-of-work Americans will get their last $300 federal weekly boost to jobless payments on March 14. And those in two key pandemic unemployment assistance will start running out of benefits at that time.

Some 4 million people in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs will see their benefits expire in mid-March, while the payments of another 7.3 million folks will lapse over the following four weeks, according to a recent report from The Century Foundation.

The two temporary federal programs were created in Congress' $2 trillion relief package last March and were extended by 11 weeks in the $900 billion relief deal passed in December.

The former provides benefits to freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors and certain people affected by the pandemic, while the latter lengthens the duration of payments for those in the traditional state unemployment system.

The Senate is set this week to begin considering the massive package that passed the House early Saturday morning, largely along party lines.

But it will take some time to pass since senators are expected to make changes to the legislation — and then the House will have to vote on the revised bill before it is sent to Biden for his signature.

8:26 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

Here's what action is expected in the Senate this week on the latest Covid-19 stimulus bill

From CNN's Lauren Fox

The Senate could move as soon as this week to pass their Covid-19 relief bill.

If the Senate passes their version of the bill by the end of the week, that gives the House time to re-pass the new version in their own chamber. It also gives President Biden time to sign it and gives states an opportunity to readjust their unemployment benefits with the increased benefit.

Democrats are on schedule right now and many aides have told CNN "it's a strange feeling" after four years of tumult under former President Trump. There are no doubts Biden is going to sign this proposal. There is no tweet coming for bigger stimulus checks. The White House and congressional Democrats are in lockstep here. They have been the whole time, and it's part of the reason this package looks so identical to Biden's plan.

It's also why they may meet their deadline of having enacted the bill by March 14 when a weekly federal enhancement in benefits is scheduled to expire.

Here's a look at the legislation's next steps (This plan is subject to change):

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, will bring the package to the floor as soon as Wednesday.
  • That version will include changes suggested by the parliamentarian (so no minimum wage increase).
  • That begins 20 hours of debate.
  • At the end of those 20 hours, the Senate will begin their second vote-a-rama. Given the nature of those marathon votes, we cannot predict exactly when final passage will be, but if past is prologue, look to early Friday morning. The last vote-a-rama ended at 5 a.m. ET.