Second stimulus check IRS updates: news summary for 5 January
US coronavirus & stimulus check news: live updates
- Georgia runoff elections could help determine $2,000 stimulus check payments
- Second round of stimulus check payments began in late December
- Survey reveals Americans are split on who to blame for the failure to pass the bill on $2k stimulus checks
- Trump to sue over leaked call (full story)
- Trump pressures Sec of State for Georgia: "All I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes" (full story)
- US covid-19 death toll surpasses 350,000
Trump turning up the heat on Pence
After the New York Times reported that Pence had informed the President over lunch that as Vice President he didn’t have the power to block congressional certification of Joe Biden victory Trump released a statement stating that the VP is in lockstep with him.
Democratic candidates have early lead
With 50 percent of the vote in, the two Democratic contenders have the lead in the Georgia Senate runoff races held Tuesday. If the final results have them as the winners another round of stimulus may be on the books.
Give money to the people who will spend it
Kevin O’Leary, an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and chairman of O’Shares ETFs, tells CNBC Make It that the stimulus moneys would have been better spent on giving it to they people who are in dire straits. He said “If you became unemployed after March and are still unemployed, you get $2,000 per month for the next 12 months or until you find work.”
California Governor Newsom releases preliminary budget plan to help tackle consequences of the pandemic.
A variant of the coronavirus first detected in South Africa is unlikely to completely negate the immunising effects of vaccines, a researcher studying it told Reuters.
British scientists expressed concern on Monday that covid-19 vaccines may not be able to protect against the variant identified by South African scientists and which has spread internationally.
Vacations amid travel curbs cost Canadian politicians' jobs
Eight Canadian politicians have resigned or were demoted after travelling internationally over the Christmas holidays despite urgings from government officials to avoid non-essential trips during the covid-19 pandemic.
Conservative member of parliament David Sweet resigned as chair of the House of Commons' ethics committee after he travelled to the United States to deal with a "property issue" but stayed on for leisure, federal opposition Conservative Party leader Erin O'Toole's office said in a statement.
In the western province of Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said on social media he accepted the resignation of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and asked his chief of staff Jamie Huckabay to step down after they travelled to Hawaii and the United Kingdom respectively.
"I have listened to Albertans who are sending a clear message that they want real consequences for these actions," Kenney said. "By travelling abroad over the holidays, these individuals demonstrated extremely poor judgment."
Pictures on social media showed a large banner reading "Welcome Home, Aloha Allard" hung outside Allard's constituency office in Grand Prairie. Local media reported angry constituents had put it there.
Five other legislative assembly members of Alberta's ruling United Conservative Party have been demoted for travelling abroad over the holidays, violating coronavirus travel warnings issued by federal and provincial governments.
US screened 500m fewer airport passengers in 2020
The US government screened 500 million fewer people at US airport checkpoints in 2020, down 61% over 2019, as air travel slowed sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Monday.
The TSA said it screened 324 million passengers throughout its airport security checkpoints in 2020, down from 824 million passengers screened in 2019. In recent weeks, travel has rebounded slightly. On Sunday, TSA screened 1.327 million people at airport checkpoints, the most since mid-March, but still down 45% from the same day in 2020.
TSA said in a statement it anticipates "daily travel volumes will continue to rise steadily and follow seasonal patterns." However, the agency expects volume will remain well below pre-pandemic levels through most of 2021.
A closed street for traffic is seen on January 5, 2021, near the White House in preparation for supporters of US President Trump who are planning to demonstrate on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. One day after the runoffs, Congress will meet in a joint session to certify the Electoral College vote that confirmed Biden as the presidential winner. Certification is usually a formality. But while Republican heavyweights like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have acknowledged Biden's victory, dozens of House Republicans and 12 Senate Republicans loyal to Trump have signaled they will raise objections to the certification. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)
Ossoff joins Biden in promising $2000 stimulus
On Senate runoff election day in Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff told reporters that he, fellow Democratic senate candidate Raphael Warnock and a Democratic-majority Senate with the Joe Biden administration would immediately pass $2,000 stimulus checks and pass legislation for free covid-19 testing and vaccines and improve vaccine distribution.
When did IRS start to pay $600 stimulus check?
The payments could have already arrived or be hitting your account imminently. There's been some confusion, so we've clarified when the official payment date was and when you can expect your check by.
Joe Biden's change of heart on $2,000 stimulus checks shows power of Bernie Sanders
After weeks of progressive pressure, president-elect Joe Biden on Monday promised to immediately deliver $2,000 stimulus checks to millions of Americans if Georgia Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff win their races this week. The comments come a month after Biden reportedly told congressional Democrats to accept stimulus legislation that included no checks, report Newsweek and The Daily Poster.
"One state can chart the course—not just for the next four years, but for the next generation," Biden said in a Monday evening speech in Atlanta. "By electing Jon and the Reverend you can make an immediate difference in your own lives, the lives of people all across this country because their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check, that money that will go out the door immediately to people who are in real trouble."
Biden's change of heart comes only a month after he helped persuade congressional Democrats to support stimulus legislation that did not include the checks, according to The New York Times. At the time, Biden suggested he did not oppose checks, but he pushed Democrats to accept a deal without them, raising concerns that he may revert to his past support for budget austerity.
Second stimulus check enquiries and contacts for IRS
The online payment tracker is your best bet or failing that the FAQ on IRS website, if you have an unusual query here's the phone number to call.
Second stimulus check: what are the differences between EIP card and stimulus check?
The IRS has started distributing the second round of stimulus checks, or Economic Impact Payments although there is no similarity with the EIP card. Read more...
Florida lawmakers calls for Trump resort to be temporarily shut
A lawmaker in Florida has called for President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort to be fined and temporarily shut after videos emerged of a New Year's Party on the premises showing maskless crowd indoors singing, shouting, and dancing...
New coronavirus variant in the US
Cases of the new more infectious variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in the UK have now been reported in New York, Colarado, Florida and California...
Voting in Georgia well underway
Voting got undeway at 7am in Georgia for the Senate election run-off with two Senate seats up for grabs. The possible approval of $2k stimulus checks could be very well be determined by outcome of the election. Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has so far blocked any attempts for a vote on the bill to increase the payments.
But if Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win the two seats in Georgia, the Dems will take control of ths Senate, which would, in turn, boost any hopes for the approval of $2k stimulus checks.
75% of voters think $600 stimulus checks are "too little"
75% of voters feel the $600 stimulus checks are “too little", according to a poll by Hill-Harris X poll.
In the poll conducted from Dec. 30 until Jan. 3, 15% said the checks were the right amount while eight percent said the amount was excessive.
More than two-thirds of vaccines in the US have gone unused
According to this report by Reuters, ,ore than two-thirds of the 15 million coronavirus vaccines shipped within the United States have so far gone unused...
Track your payment
If you still have not recieved your stimulus check, you can head over to the IRS websie to use their tracking tool.
The IRS has confirmed it begun sending out payments before the New Year.
Will be there a third stimulus check under Joe Biden?
With the $600 payments currently being distributed not expected to last long, many Americans are already wondering if there will be a third stimulus check under Joe Biden. Read the full story...
A covid-19 shot for $150? Online scams surge
Not only are there scams to steal stimulus check payments from Americans, as millions of people await their turn to get a covid-19 vaccine that could be months away, scammers online, in emails and on messaging apps are luring victims with claims they can deliver shots within days for as little as $150.
Covid-19 vaccine scams are on the rise, according to European and US government officials who are warning the public of fraudsters out for money and personal data. A Reuters search online, in dark web forums and on messaging app Telegram found seven different offers for alleged covid-19 vaccines. Scams include emails promising entry to supposedly secret lists for early vaccine access and robocallers impersonating government agencies. Message boards on the so-called dark web have added covid-19 vaccines to more traditional illicit goods for sale.
The US FBI and Interpol, among others, have warned of emerging pandemic-related fraud schemes, saying false cures and vaccines advertised on fake websites could pose cyber threats and a significant risk to peoples' health, or even lives.
Website domains containing the word vaccine in combination with covid-19 or coronavirus more than doubled since October to roughly 2,500 in November, when the first legitimate vaccines were nearing regulatory approval, according to cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, which is tracking covid-19 fraud online.
'So far a lot of these domains just appear to be opportunistic registrations, but some are going to be used for phishing attempts to have people click on (malicious) links,' said Lindsay Kaye, director of operational outcomes at Recorded Future.
The federal government has released an updated set of detailed hospital-level data showing the toll covid-19 is taking on health care facilities, including how many inpatient and ICU beds are available on a weekly basis.
Using an analysis from the University of Minnesota's covid-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project, NPR has created a tool that allows you to see how your local hospital and your county overall are faring. It focuses on one important metric — how many beds are filled with covid-19 patients — and shows this for each hospital and on average for each county.
Analysing the $600
It's called a stimulus check, or an EIP, but many argue that it ia hardly even a survival check for many very needy Americans struggling their way through the impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
More contagious strain in New York
The new, more contagious strain of coronavirus has been found in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday, making it the fourth known state with a case of the variant.
An individual in Saratoga County in upstate New York has been confirmed to have the strain, sometimes known as the UK variant because it was first discovered in the United Kingdom.
Cuomo tweeted Monday that the person has no known travel history, indicating the new variant is spreading to some degree in the community.
Unemployment Payments To Begin in some states
As well as the stimulus checks, other aspects of the coronavirus relief bill are also proving to be crucial to individuals and businesses.
And after months of waiting and uncertainty while Congress struggled to finalize the most recent round of federal coronavirus aid, a handful of states including California and New York have said they will begin paying out a long-awaited extra $300 weekly unemployment benefit to eligible claimants this week.
Scammers be scamming
A reminder of some typical scams that have emerged taking advantage of the new stimulus checks finally being rolled out and top tips on how you can avoid them.
Reverse creditor bail-out
Student loans, medical debt, mortgage payments, rent, and municipal debt should all be reduced or eliminated outright, is the call from Astra Taylor.
The only sensible solution, she says, is a policy of generous cash payments coupled with wide-scale debt relief, pointing to research that shows people spent 30 percent of their 2020 stimulus checks to service debt.
FBI asked to investigate Trump
Reps. Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice have sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking him to open a criminal investigation into Trump's call to Brad Raffensperger.
Biden's $2,000 guarantee
President-elect Joe Biden spoke ahead of the Georgia run-off elections and make it clear that two Democrat wins would bring a larger check to all needy Americans.
Money advisor Douglas Boneparth was surprised to see some younger views on what to do with the stimulus check when it arrives.
President Trump at a rally in Georgia Monday openly pressured his loyal No. 2 to help change the election outcome saying “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us.” The Vice President will preside on Wednesday when Congress meets to ratify the Electoral College results certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Trump thinks that Pence’s role in the certification will be like that of an arbiter who plays a role in the outcome whereas the Vice President’s role will be mainly ceremonial. However all eyes will be on Pence to see if he tries to humor his boss with some theatrics as around a dozen Senators have said they will object to the Electoral College results.
Business leaders tell Congress to certify the election results
More than 170 prominent business leaderssigned a letter to Congress to urge the lawmakers to certify the Electoral College results that declared Joe Biden the President-elect. At least 140 House Republicans and a dozen Senate Republicans are preparing to vote against Biden's victory during the vote scheduled for Wednesday.
New House rules
The House of Representatives voted 217-206 along party-lines to adopt a new set of rules for the 117th Congress. The new rules include a provision to allow members to vote remotely during the pandemic. Also bills cannot be amended at the 11th hour on the floor, but any changes will be sent back to committee to give members time to review the changes. Among some of the other new rules, whistleblowers will be given stronger protections and tighter rules on lawmakers spreading misinformation.
A majority of Americans support $2000 stimulus checks
Across the political spectrum there is wide support for further $2000 direct stimulus payments for every American for the duration of the pandemic according to polling by Data for Progress. Another study released by Data for Progress over the weekend shows that Americans blame the Republican leaders for failure to pass the measure.
Georgia on our mind
Clearly the biggest news of the day is what is happening in the south east.
To follow what is happening in the Georgia Senate runoff elections, hop over to our dedicated live feed.
Hello and welcome
Thank you for joining us as we begin our live blog on Tuesday morning, 5 January 2021.
We'll be bringing you all the latest news and reaction on the new stimulus package, the continued push for a bill to increase stimulus checks to $2,000, as well as the major political news coming out of Washington D.C.