President Joe Biden will not be attaching his signature to the $1,400 relief checks that are expected to be mailed soon — a break with his predecessor who last year had “President Donald J. Trump” printed on the economic impact payments approved by Congress.
The next round of paper checks will bear the signature of a career official at the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Tuesday briefing.
House Democratic leaders said Tuesday that they have the votes to give final congressional approval to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Passage has not been in serious question, but the leaders’ confidence underscored the unity Democrats have shown during the effort.
The vote on that bill, which includes the checks for most American households, is set for Wednesday. House approval, four days after the Senate passed a modestly reworked version of the package, will clinch Biden's most significant early legislative achievement.
Psaki said the goal was to get the payments out quickly instead of branding them as coming from Biden.
“This is not about him, this is about the American people getting relief,” Psaki said.
Trump insisted last April after more than $2 trillion in coronavirus aid was approved that his name be on the $1,200 relief checks — a first for any president. The real estate tycoon and media personality famously plastered his name on skyscrapers, steaks, menswear, a board game, bottled water, vodka and a real estate training program that he labeled as “Trump University.”
At the time the checks were released, the former president said, “I’m sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check and my name is on it.”
Besides those checks, the overall bill also extends emergency jobless benefits to early September, instead of expiring on March 14. It spends huge amounts on COVID-19 vaccines, testing and treatments, while also aiding state and local governments and schools, assisting small businesses and providing major expansions of tax breaks and programs for lower- and middle-income families.
Progressives suffered setbacks, especially the Senate's removal of a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 hourly by 2025. But the measure carries so many Democratic priorities that final passage was not in doubt, despite the party's narrow 10-vote House majority.
“There's not going to be a problem" with the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Tuesday.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., his party's No. 3 House leader and chief vote counter, was even more precise. He noted that Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, one of just two Democrats who opposed an initial version of the bill that the House approved last month, has said he'll support it now because it provides “lifeline" aid for so many people.
“We lost two the first time," Clyburn said. “I think we have at least cut it in half."
The only other Democrat who opposed the measure last month was Maine Rep. Jared Golden.
___ Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report.