WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly approved the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill on Saturday, moving millions of Americans one step closer to receiving a third round of stimulus checks.
The "American Rescue Plan" is meant to deliver another round of aid, including $1,400 direct payments, to stabilize the economy while the public health effort seeks the upper hand on the pandemic.
The House of Representatives passed its version of President Joe Biden's proposal last weekend, but changes were made in the Senate version, so it'll next have to go back to the House for final congressional approval.
While both plans included a third stimulus check, the Senate proposal tightened the upper income limits at which people would qualify.
Who gets third stimulus check under the Senate passed plan?
The legislation provides a third stimulus check that amounts to $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent.
In both the Senate and House plans, individuals earning up to $75,000 would get the full amount, as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000, and heads of households with incomes up to $112,500.
The key difference is the legislation the Senate passed phases out the $1,400 stimulus checks at a faster rate for those with incomes above the initial levels.
So under the Senate deal, individuals making $80,000 or more, heads of households making $120,000 or more and couples making $160,000 or more would not receive a stimulus check.
Under the House plan, the hard cut-off for individuals was $100,000 and $200,000 for joint filing couples.
Roughly 98% of U.S. households that received a COVID-19 relief check in December will also qualify for the next round of payments being championed by President Joe Biden, according to a White House official.
Families that don't receive a third stimulus check might still come out ahead in the massive $1.9 trillion package. The bill also expands tax credits for children and childcare and those benefits will go to some of the households that received a check in December but no longer qualify for it.
When will the House vote?
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced on Saturday afternoon that the House will vote Tuesday on the Senate-passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
"On Tuesday, the House will consider the Senate's amended version of the American Rescue Plan, so that we can send this bill to President Biden for his signature early next week,” Hoyer said in a statement.
When will the third stimulus check be sent out?
Democrats want to send a final package to Biden to sign by March 14, when an earlier round of emergency jobless benefits expires.
With the Senate passing its plan on Saturday and the House planning to vote on Tuesday, Democrats remain on track to meet that self-imposed deadline.
During the first round of stimulus checks in April 2020, it took about two weeks for the federal government to start distributing the money. It took around one week for the second round of checks, worth $600, in early January.
If the IRS is able to keep with previous timelines, Americans could start receiving stimulus checks sometime between late March to early April. For example, if the stimulus package is signed into law by March 14, based on previous relief plans, the first direct deposits may go out the week of March 22.
Another possible complicating factor is that this round of stimulus checks will likely be going out while the IRS is dealing with tax returns.
Why $1,400 checks and not $2,000?
Biden's plan called for $1,400 checks for most Americans, which on top of the $600 provided in the most recent COVID-19 bill would bring the total to the $2,000 that Biden has called for.
But Biden initially did not make that differentiation. Biden said on January 4 while campaigning for Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock ahead of Georgia's Senate runoff elections, "Their election will put an end to the block in Washington of that $2,000 stimulus check. That money that will go out the door immediately."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.