House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Pelosi said Monday the Senate had not yet sent President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan over to the House for passage. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
March 9 (UPI) -- The House is preparing to vote on President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was initially expected Tuesday but Democratic leaders say final passage could be delayed to Wednesday.
The large-scale aid package -- which includes a third stimulus payment for Americans who earn less than $80,000 and tens of billions of dollars for vaccines and unemployment benefits -- passed the Senate last weekend.
Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats in the chamber hope for a floor vote late Tuesday, but noted that a slight delay in the Senate could push that final step to Wednesday.
"It depends on when we get the paper from the Senate," she said in a report by CNN. "It has to be very precise, and it takes time to do that.
"It could be that we get it [Tuesday] afternoon and then it has to go to [the] rules [committee]. And we'd take it up Wednesday morning at the latest."
Pelosi noted that the Senate is still finalizing the bill, a formalization process House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said was "complicated." Both emphasized that there are no hangups with the legislation.
Whenever the full House takes up the measure, it's all but certain to pass the Democratic-held chamber and be sent to the White House for Biden's signature.
Once Biden signs the bill into law, the Internal Revenue Service will begin sending out $1,400 stimulus payments almost immediately.
Democrats are also motivated to quickly pass the relief bill so that there's no lapse in unemployment and other aid benefits, which expire on Sunday. The new bill would extend enhanced federal unemployment payments of $300 per week through Labor Day.
"This nation has suffered too much for much too long," Biden said on Saturday after the Senate passed his aid package. "Everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering."
The relief bill also includes billions for local and state recovery efforts, something none of the previous aid measures have offered.
"This plan is big, and it is bold, and it will help us beat this virus and build back our economy," Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday at a conference of the National League of Cities.
"With this plan, we will scale up our vaccination program, get relief to the small businesses that fill your main streets, and get your schools safely reopened. The bill provides targeted support for as many as 19,000 cities, towns, and villages."
The rescue plan also includes funding to extend a 15% increase in food stamp benefits to September, help low-income Americans pay for rent, increase federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies and pay for struggling rural hospitals and healthcare providers.
No Republicans have voted to support the relief bill, which they have largely dismissed as a wasteful funding package that funnels aid to people and places that don't need it. Experts and analysts have largely dismissed that position.
Tuesday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Biden's far-reaching plan and the prevalence of coronavirus vaccines will speed up global economic recovery.
The forecast projects the international economy will grow by 5.6% this year, a significant increase over the OECD's last outlook in December, in large part due to Biden's rescue plan.
"The forthcoming American Rescue Plan provides a considerably larger stimulus, potentially raising aggregate demand by between 3-4% on average in the following four quarters, with welcome spillovers for activity in major trading partners," it states.
"The planned fiscal stimulus in the United States, set out in the American Rescue Plan, will provide a significant near-term boost to activity if enacted in full."