Third stimulus check: what has Biden said about $2,000 payment?
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to provide Americans with further economic relief after taking office.
President-elect Joe Biden has reiterated his assertion that the $600 maximum figure in the second round of direct payments is insufficient to meet the needs of struggling Americans, declaring: "We need $2,000 stimulus checks."
As part of the $900bn coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress in December, checks of up to $600 are being sent out to people earning under $75,000 a year, with those on up to $87,000 receiving a gradually smaller figure and households also able to claim an extra $600 per child dependent aged 16 or under.
Stimulus checks of up to $600 "simply not enough", says Biden
"$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table," Biden posted on Twitter on Sunday. "We need $2,000 stimulus checks."
Biden’s tweet follows similar remarks made by the Democrat in a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday, when he also described $600 as "simply not enough" amid a pledge to push for a new, multi-trillion-dollar covid-19 relief package after being sworn in on 20 January.
"We need more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses, including finishing the job of getting people the $2,000 relief direct payment," he said.
US economy hemorrhages jobs in December
The president-elect’s comments come in the wake of the news that the US economy shed as many as 140,000 jobs in December, throwing into reverse a months-long run of employment growth in the country.
Third stimulus check: $2,000 or $1,400?
It is not completely clear whether Biden’s statements on a $2,000 payment refer to a third stimulus check for the figure in full or for the $1,400 difference between $600 and $2,000 - although his talk of "finishing the job" of getting a larger amount for Americans indicates it is the latter.
At the end of December, Democrats in Congress attempted to raise the second check from $600 to $2,000, voting in the House of Representatives to add $1,400 to the maximum figure - but the plan was stymied when the legislation was blocked from advancing in the Senate by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate run-off results in Georgia give Democrats better chance of pushing through bigger check
However, the Democrats now appear better-placed to push through the increase in the coming months, after Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff's victories in last Tuesday’s Senate run-off elections in Georgia saw the party take control of the upper chamber.
Although Ossoff and Warnock’s wins left an even split of 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate, Biden’s vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, will have a deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Democrats' attempts to increase the size of the second check came after Donald Trump called for a $2,000 top figure to replace what he described as a "ridiculously low" and "measly" $600 maximum, amid the outgoing president's initial refusal to sign a coronavirus aid package that he labeled a "disgrace".
Stimulus check and US politics: live news
You can keep up-to-date with the latest news on stimulus checks and US politics by following our dedicated live blog.