The latest on the Covid-19 stimulus bill

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

Updated 8:14 PM ET, Thu March 4, 2021
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9:53 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

Here are some key differences between the House and Senate Covid-19 relief bills

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Senate bill we expect to see in the next several hours will look different than what the House passed, even if many of the most popular provisions and structures will remain untouched.

That's a reflection of the herculean task Democratic leadership and the White House have had to undertake in recent days as they've hustled to try and ensure that every Democratic senator had what they needed tucked inside to back this bill. It also means the bill will have to go back to the House for another vote next week before sending it to President Biden's desk.

We know of a few big ways the Senate bill will look different than what the House passed:

The bill won't include:

The bill will also change:

  • The income threshold for who is eligible to get Covid relief checks will be different. Once an individual makes $80,000, they won't get any relief check; in the House bill, that cutoff was $100,000. An individual making $75,000 a year will get the full $1,400 and it will be phased out up to $80,000.
  • Includes more money for rural hospitals
  • More funding to expand broadband
  • More money for FEMA to help the homeless
  • A slightly revised state and local formula that will help smaller population states and boosts the minimum they will receive.

Read more here.

9:12 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

Voting process for Covid-19 relief bill could stretch into the weekend

From CNN's Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Lauren Fox

A Senate Democratic aide said they are still waiting for the official cost estimate before bringing their newly revised Covid-19 relief bill to the floor.

In essence, this means the first procedural vote would happen as soon as Thursday, but we still don't know when that will be. And after the procedural vote, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson will force the bill to be read aloud by Senate clerks. The reading will take about 10 hours.

After the 10 hours, then there will be up to 20 hours of debate on the floor.

After that floor debate, then the vote-a-rama will occur — which will go on until senators decide to no longer offer amendments. It could stretch into the weekend.

5:39 p.m. ET, March 4, 2021

Catch up: Here's where things stand on the Senate's Covid-19 relief bill 

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ted Barrett

The Senate is bracing for a marathon effort and a late night of voting on amendments before lawmakers take a final vote on President Biden's $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill — it's just not yet clear exactly when that will take place.

Here's what you need to know about the Senate bill:

  • Where thing stand and what (may) happen next: A procedural move to advance the bill now seems on track for a vote Thursday, a Senate Democratic aide told CNN, with Democratic leaders still waiting Wednesday evening for the official cost estimate before bringing the newly revised bill to the floor. At some point, the Senate is expected to move into a vote-a-rama, a tradition in the chamber that typically involves a large number of votes on amendments that can stretch for hours and last until late in the night. It is frequently used by lawmakers to force tough votes that put members of the opposing party on the record on controversial issues.
  • What both sides are saying: Democrats say the legislation is urgently needed to address the continued devastation of the pandemic. Republicans, on the other hand, have denounced the bill as a partisan measure jam-packed with liberal priorities and are signaling they won't let it advance to a final vote without putting up a fight and dragging out the process. In addition to forcing a full reading of the bill, which could take 10 hours, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has indicated he could take steps to stretch out the timeline for considering the legislation and any amendments offered to it.
  • Tweaks to the bill: In one of the latest developments related to the legislation, Biden agreed to a compromise with moderate Democrats to narrow the income eligibility for the next round of $1,400 stimulus checks included in the Senate bill, a Democratic source told CNN on Wednesday. The change has frustrated progressives, however.
  • A note on the process: Once the Senate passes its version of the bill, the process is still not over. The bill would need to be approved once again by the House before heading to the President's desk for his signature.

Read more here.

8:55 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

Biden signed off on more limits to who can get $1,400 stimulus checks. These are the changes.

From CNN's Katie Lobosco

President Biden agreed to a compromise with moderate Democrats to narrow the income eligibility for the next round of $1,400 stimulus checks that are included in a bill the Senate is expected to take up this week, a Democratic source told CNN Wednesday.

That means fewer families will receive a partial payment than would have under the original plan — completely cutting off those who earn more than $160,000 a year and individuals who earn more than $80,000 a year.

The House version of the bill set the income caps at $200,000 for couples and $100,000 for individual people.

But the same households will receive the full payment of $1,400 per person, including children. Individual people earning less than $75,000 and couples earning less than $150,000 will — just as in the House bill. Then, the payments will phase out faster for those earning more.

Unlike the previous two rounds, adult dependents — including college students — are expected to be eligible for the payments.

The House bill had already narrowed the eligibility compared earlier rounds of stimulus payments. It still would have sent money to more than 93% of tax filers, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

The federal government sent payments worth up to $1,200 per person last year and up to $600 in January. The next round is intended to top off the $600 checks so that individuals receive a total of $2,000.

8:55 a.m. ET, March 4, 2021

These are the pandemic unemployment benefits that will expire on March 14

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.