CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Third stimulus check: who has supported a new payment?

The second round of Economic Impact Payments is still ongoing but with Joe Biden set to take office next week there is renewed support for $2,000 checks.

Third stimulus check: who has supported a new payment?
SAUL LOEB AFP

After months of negotiations the second round of stimulus checks has largely been completed, with the majority of Americans having now received their $600 Economic Impact Payments. However throughout the talks in Congress many were arguing for greater support, matching or even exceeding the $1,200 checks that were a part of the CARES Act passed last March.

There were some hopes that an amendment tabled by progressive lawmakers Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in December would see the amount increased by $2,000 but that legislation was swiftly dismissed in the Senate.

Now that the balance of power in Congress has shifted and the Democrats control both Houses there is renewed hope that a more generous package could be on the horizon. But who is in favour of a third round of stimulus checks?

Changing situation in Congress makes third stimulus checks more likely

Throughout negotiations it was clear that the Democrat-held House of Representatives and the Republican-led Senate would struggle to agree on the amount of financial support offered, and as a result the Democrats had to settle for $600 stimulus checks.

But since flipping the Senate in the Georgia runoff election earlier this month, experts are predicting that the Democrats will be looking to push through a more substantial relief package with additional stimulus checks included. Ed Mills, a financial analyst for investment bank Raymond James, said in a post-election report that we are likely to see additional payments.

"We expect growing anticipation that Democrats will pursue additional stimulus, with a $2,000 check (or at least the remaining $1,400) as a leading item," Mills wrote.

In recent days Senate Majority Leader-designate Chuck Schumer has outlined his plans to see more direct payments secured. Last Wednesday he told the Senate: “One of the first things that I want to do when our new Senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families.”

President-elect Biden echoes call for another waves of stimulus checks

For all the debate in Congress any new federal spending, particularly on the scale that a new stimulus package would demand, is dependent on the approval of the president, which from 20 January will be Joe Biden. As a seasoned operator in the Capitol Biden is much more likely to work with Congress than his predecessor and will be instrumental in getting a new financial relief package passed.

On Sunday President-elect Biden’s Twitter account outlined his support for another round of direct payments arguing that $2,000 per person is needed to ensure that Americans can afford essentials during the pandemic. In a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware on Friday he called the $600 amount “simply not enough”, and pledged to prioritise “finishing the job of getting people the $2,000 relief direct payments”.

Progressive voices unite to push for improved stimulus checks

Aside from the President and Congressional leaders, much of the push for a third round of stimulus checks come from the progressive voices inside the Democratic Party who have been calling for additional financial support for months.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is the current chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus(CPC), the second-largest ideological caucus in the entire Congress, and has been an avid support of increased spending to assist Americans struggling during the pandemic. She supports Biden’s pledge to invest trillions in the US economy, saying the government must “meet the scale of crises we face, put money in people's pockets”.

Another key member of the CPC is Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been pushing for $2,000 stimulus checks since the pandemic began. He has repeatedly compared the United States’ covid response to that of Canada, which has provided citizens with $2,000 per month of direct payments.

Democratic Rep. for New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is another prominent figure in the progressive movement and has called for the federal government to consider the pandemic as a crisis and spend funds accordingly. She describes the situation as “disaster recovery”, but argues that there is not enough urgency to get more substantial support out to the people.