Daily Stimulus Update: Democrats Moving Very Quickly to Provide Direct Payments

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Democrats are moving ahead quickly with $1,400 checks.

Democrats are serious about passing stimulus legislation as soon as possible, and they are moving forward with legislative maneuvers to quickly fulfill their campaign promise of $2,000 stimulus checks.

Shortly before inauguration day, President Joe Biden put forth his proposal to get $1,400 payments into most people's bank accounts. This would combine with the $600 already delivered in late December and early January to provide the $2,000 they campaigned on. The incoming Democratic Congress also made clear that providing the president's promised relief was their first priority.

Perhaps surprisingly, this wasn't just talk from D.C. politicians. Every action the Democrats have taken since Biden was sworn in shows they're serious about fulfilling their campaign promise to get money into people's hands right away. In fact, in recent days, both House and Senate Democrats have begun the process necessary to pass legislation that will swiftly deliver funds to struggling individuals and families.

House and Senate take key procedural steps necessary to pass stimulus checks

Although Biden has indicated his preference is to pass bipartisan legislation, the administration and other leaders on the left have also stated in recent days that they are not willing to dramatically scale down the scope of their relief bill just to get Republican votes.

They don't need to, as they have 50 votes in the U.S. Senate and Vice President Kamala Harris can act as their 51st vote to provide a bare majority. While this ordinarily wouldn't be sufficient to pass legislation, the Democrats will have up to two chances this year to pass a fast-track bill that can't be filibustered using a process called reconciliation. And both the House and Senate have taken key steps this week towards using that procedural maneuver to provide $1,400 checks without delay.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved a budget framework along party lines, which is the key first step in reconciliation. Then, on Wednesday, the House of Representatives did the same, with the legislation largely passing along party lines.

These preliminary actions will allow them to fulfill the president's mandate to deliver help swiftly, with reports indicating that Biden urged House Democrats that "We need to act fast," because "It's about who… we are as a country."

This doesn't mean all hope is lost for continued negotiations with Republicans, though. Although the president has made clear the GOP's scaled-down proposal is a non-starter, he's said that he is willing to negotiate on some aspects of the relief legislation. One of the key points where he's willing to give ground involves imposing new, tighter income restrictions on who receives the next $1,400 stimulus payment.

Biden's willingness to negotiate on income limits for the next coronavirus check may be part of the president's attempt to ensure his own caucus is on board with his plans, rather than just part of his efforts to reach across the aisle. Democrats will need the votes of every one of their senators to hit the necessary 51 votes to pass a bill -- assuming Republicans are unified in opposition. And conservative Democratic senators including Joe Manchin have urged both efforts at bipartisanship as well as new restrictions on stimulus payments to ensure the money is more targeted.

Ultimately, though, with Democrats barreling full steam ahead, it's likely they're pretty confident they'll have the votes to pass a large-scale stimulus plan through reconciliation. And given their campaign promises, that relief is almost assuredly going to include $1,400 checks for at least most of the people who received stimulus aid before -- if not all of them. With their swift actions this week, that money could be here very soon.

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