KEY POINTS

  • The US Congress is unlikely to pass Biden's $1.9 trillion bill until early February
  • The bill will boost stimulus payments by $1,400
  • The $1.9 trillion bill will also increase the weekly unemployment benefits to $400

Millions of Americans may have to wait for another month to get their stimulus checks, as experts believe it is unlikely that President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion bill, which includes the payments, will be passed in January. 

On Thursday evening, Biden unveiled the latest coronavirus relief proposal, which includes provisions for funding for small businesses, aid for state, local and tribal governments, and a third round of stimulus payments worth $1,400. 

Billed as the “American Rescue Plan,” the $1.9 trillion package includes many of the measures that were in the $3 trillion relief bill Congress passed in March 2020 and the scaled-down $900 billion legislation the Trump administration signed into law in December. 

Democrats are expected to take control of both the House and Senate after Biden and two new Democratic senators from Georgia are sworn in. However, the process of passing the new stimulus bill may take weeks. 

Experts warned that the earliest Congress could approve Biden’s rescue package would likely be in early February. They also said Congress may pass a one-off bill that would boost the amount of stimulus checks to $2,000 from $600. However, passing a nearly $2 trillion bill may take weeks of debate and discussion between Democrats and Republicans. 

Once the plan is approved, the U.S. Treasury Department and IRS could begin sending out direct payments in a few days. 

Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee to replace Steven Mnuchin and lead the Treasury Department, urged the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday to approve the relief package to help struggling Americans. 

“Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” Yellen said in an opening statement before the committee.

“I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time,” she added. 

The $1.9 trillion bill will give millions of Americans $1,400 checks on top of the $600 payments approved by Congress last month. It would also increase the amount of weekly federal unemployment benefits to $400 from the current $300.  The United States faces a number of 'competing crises' as Joe Biden takes office as president The United States faces a number of 'competing crises' as Joe Biden takes office as president Photo: AFP / Angela Weiss