Stimulus check and US news summary: 22 January 2021

$1,400 third stimulus check live updates: Biden plan, when it could arrive

Stimulus checks and US news live: latest updates

Headlines

- Biden signs executive order on the coronavirus pandemic and economy

- An estimated 8 million eligible Americans are still yet to have received at least one of their stimulus checks payments

- Republican Senators Collins and Romney question the need for additional stimulus spending

- Biden uses executive authority to fund 'food stamp' increase and retroactive stimulus check payments

- Dr Fauci promises science-led approach in Biden administration's coronavirus response

- Trump pardons Steve Bannon and another 142 people in final hours in office (full story)

- Stimulus check of up to $1,400 included in President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan

Biden set to sign raft of executive orders immediately after taking office

- New president's executive actions will include rejoining Paris climate accord and reversing Muslim travel ban

- Top GOP Senator Mitch McConnell places blame for 6 January insurrection at Trump's door

- US covid cases/deaths: >24.6 million / >410,000 (live updates)

Related articles:

New executive orders offer financial boost for struggling families

As the public health crisis in the US continues to worsen so too does the economic situation, with 30 million American households struggling to put food on the table at some point in the last month. Biden's proposed $1.9trn covid-19 relief bill will hopefully provide the stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits required, but the President has taken decisive action to protect those most at risk. 

In two executive orders signed on Friday Biden has secured a federal increase for food stamps and support for children who would normally receive free school meals. Here's everything you need to know about the new developments.  

When will the next round of stimulus checks arrive?

US President Joe Biden has included a third stimulus check, this time for up to $1,400, in his coronavirus relief proposal announced shortly before he took office. But this much-needed financial boost still needs to pass both Houses of Congress before it can be signed into law.

The $1,400 maximum payment represents the difference between the $600 second stimulus check included in December’s $900bn covid-19 aid package and the $2,000 figure Democrats unsuccessfully sought to raise this to. "We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most," Biden said in a recent press conference. 

However some Republican lawmakers have argued that another round of direct payments is unneccessary so soon after the last. Here's what you need to know about when to expect the third stimulus check...

Food stamp provision increased with new executive orders

Biden's pledge to provide greater financial support to Americans struggling with the economic consequences of the pandemic has seen him sign two executive orders on Friday to beef up vital government programmes. The increase to 'food stamps' will see more given to poorer families to cover food costs, and greater support given to students whose schools are currently shut due to the pandemic.

As another 900,000 filed for unemployment insurance this week the executive orders are a reflection of the urgency with which Biden intends to get money out to those in need. In recent days his $1.9 trillion stimulus package has been questioned by some GOP lawmakers and it will not be easy to pass such a large-scale bill. 

In the meantime Biden issued an order allowing FEMA emergency relief funds to be used to send direct payments to the estimated 8 million Americans who were eligible for stimulus checks, but who are still yet to receive at least one of their payments. 

What will Biden do to tackle coronavirus?

President Joe Biden has begun his time in the White House by signing a number of key executive orders, signalling the main priorities for the first stages of his presidency. The United States is currently experiencing the worst period of the pandemic to date having now surpassed 400,000 covid-related deaths and the situation is likely to worsen. 

Alongside the economic solutions, such as stimulus checks and unemployment support, Biden's team will need to bring the public health disaster under control to return to some kind of normality. The new administration have a lot planned for the first 100 days. 

Biden raises minimum wage to $15 for federal employees

In his first few days in office Preisdent Joe Biden has already began making good on his pledge to support lower paid workers. Payments for the third round of stimulus checks are expected to begin shortly, while new legislation would see federal employees and contractors move towards a $15 per hour minmum wage. 

A new executive order signed by President Joe Biden directs various government agencies to review which workers earn less than $15 per hour, and prepare rules for contractors to ensure their workers are not paid less. Biden will also sign an executive order boosting 'food stamp' benefits such as SNAP, which is currently relied upon for about 40 million Americans. 

Biden recovery plan may provide retroactive stimulus checks 

An executive order (EO) signed by President Joe Biden today calls for eligible Americans who missed out on the first two rounds of stimulus checks to be given the $1,800 that they are owed. Despite over 160 million people receiving the money in each wave of direct payments, the Treasury Department estimates that 8 million were missed out. 

The official fact sheet for the new EO on the White House website states that the new package would aim to "Ensure equitable and effective delivery of direct payments". 

It calls for the Treasury Department "to consider changing its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled."

Economist calls for greater federal spending to stimulate economy

John Friedman, an economics professor at Brown University and a co-director at Opportunity Insights, applauds the Biden administration for its focus on lower income and working class families in his pandemic response.

Currently the number of small businesses open and operating is down nearly 30% compared with pre-pandemic levels, and the number of new requests for unemployment benefits is at the highest since August. It is hoped that by providing stimulus checks and other forms of economic assistance, the federal government can stimulate to economy from the bottom up. 

"We need to help those hardest-hit by the pandemic get through the next six to nine months until this public health crisis passes. Then we can get the economy going again," Friedman told CNN.

Biden administration to introduce $300 per month tax credit for children

Senior Democratic lawmakers are reportedly drafting a bill that would see a tax break worth up to $300 per month offered to parents. This much-needed financial boost for families is thought to initially be temporary but it is hoped that President Biden will look to make it permanent if successful. 

Although the additional support, which would be administered by the IRS, is technically a tax break it is thought that lawmakers are intending for the money to be distributed in the form of a monthly check. It would see up to $3,600 per year provided for each eligible child and shows Biden's commitment to providing stimulus for the struggling US economy. 

Deese

US needs "decisive" economic action - White House National Economic Council chief

Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, says the US must take "decisive action" to aid its economy as President Joe Biden seeks to get his American Rescue Plan, a $1.9tn coronavirus relief bill which includes a stimulus check of up to $1,400, through Congress.

"If we don’t act now, we will be in a much worse place and we will find ourselves needing to do much more to dig out of a much deeper hole," Deese told a White House briefing on Friday.

"The single most important thing economically right now is to take decisive action along the lines of what we’ve laid out in this rescue plan."

Deese added: "Just one example of an independent analysis of the American Rescue Plan [is one] that was carried out by Moody’s. What they found was that if we pass the American Rescue Plan now, we could see 7.5 million jobs created just this year and we could see a return to full employment a full year ahead of what is projected if we don’t.

"Those are the stakes involved."

(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

"Do the math"

Democratic congressman Ro Khanna continues to call for Americans to be given regular stimulus checks until the pandemic is over, tweeting today: "Do the math. If $600 won’t last a month for more than half of Americans, where will $2,000 get them? Recurring $2,000 checks to ordinary Americans. Every month, until the end of this crisis."

In April, Khanna and fellow Democratic House representative Tim Ryan tabled the Emergency Money for the People Act, which sought to distribute $2,000 direct payments to eligible Americans on a monthly basis. Their proposal was followed in May by a similar bill also calling for $2,000 monthly checks, the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and Ed Markey (D-Ma), together with then-Senator Kamala Harris (D-Ca), who was sworn in as vice-president on Wednesday.

The astronomical spend that regular checks would entail - the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act would cost at least $5.7tn to implement - meant neither bill gained any traction in Congress.

When could the third stimulus check happen?

A fresh round of stimulus checks may not get the go-ahead for another couple of months.

Full story:

Vaccine & stimulus combined solution

“Obviously, you want to do as best as you possibly can, I’d like it to be a lot more,” Dr Fauci said, when asked how satisfied he would really be if, by 30 April, there were exactly 100 million Americans vaccinated. “The goal was set but you don’t want to get fixated on was that an undershoot or an overshoot.” 

And regarding Biden's 100 million over 100 days challenge he said, “if we do better than that, which I personally think we likely will, then great. We’re just going to go for it for as much as you possibly can,” Fauci said. “When you set a goal, if you do better than the goal, that’s terrific, I hope we do.” 

Fauci went on to admit that the lack of truthfulness from the Trump administration about the pandemic "very likely" cost American lives.

Food stamps and stimulus payments

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal praises Joe Biden's plans to support those who really need it. And he's looking to do this at warp speed.

President Biden will issue an executive order on Friday aimed at steering additional federal aid to families struggling to afford food amid the pandemic and at helping workers stay safe on the job.

Mr. Biden, who has vowed to use the power of the presidency to help mitigate economic fallout from the pandemic, will also direct the Treasury Department to find ways to deliver stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans who have not yet received the funds.

Over 50% of Americans say checks are too little

As lawmakers debate whether to send financially struggling Americans another stimulus check, the majority of people say the second round of payments won’t help keep them afloat for long, a new Bankrate surveyfinds.

While the vast majority, 71%, of Americans say the stimulus payments are important for their finances, 53% say the $600 checks are not enough to sustain them for even a single month. That includes the 1 in 6 Americans who say the sum is too small to make an impact on their finances at all.

Read the full report.

Stimulus, wage hike, vaccines...

The US Senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy is yet another to be proudly communicating the agenda planned under the Biden administration.

Is it going to be easy? No. But if enough people can get behind it then he will hope to show the majority of Americans, including those that thought someone else would look after them, that they should be grateful he was elected.

Stimulus payment for herd immunity

Here you can listen for yourself to the opinion that we've mentioned earier, as Rep. Steve Stivers says he'd support the stimulus checks being issued...but only if they were going to the people who were being vaccinated.

Do you agree?

No stimulus check to stay home 

In the US Representative Steve Stivers has suggested that although he is against sending out more $1400 stimulus checks he would be open to the idea if it went to people would get vaccinated for covid-19. 

In the UK a leaked document from the Department of Health proposed a universal £500 payment to self-isolate to those who test positive for covid-19. However PM Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said that there is no plan to do so,  that there was already a £500 payment available for those on low incomes who cannot work from home and have to isolate.

Equity is at the core of our COVID-19 response. That's why today, I signed an executive order to establish the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, protect those most at risk, and address racial and other disparities.

Joe Biden, US President

Parler to stay dark for now 

When the social media giants began to put labels and warnings on content that could be misleading or false an exodus began to a new platform Parler where views could be expressed unbridled. After the 2020 general election wild unverifiable and blatantly false accusations of election fraud caused a stampede to the site preferred by followers of former President Donald Trump.  

But after the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January the social media giants went on a full crackdown of incendiary speech and conspiracy theories that had stoked the deadly events. Parler as a whole went dark when it was kicked off app stores and Amazon kicked it off its web-hosting service.  

In a lawsuit Parler filed against Amazon a federal judge in Seattle won't force the company to immediately restore web service to Parler.

US may have to wait for third round of stimulus  

Although the Democrats have a unified government, there are still obstacles they will have to overcome in order to move President Joe Biden’s agenda forward in Congress.  Besides any Republican resistance the two biggest hurdles could be reaching a power sharing deal in the Senate divided evenly 50-50 and Trump’s second impeachment

Until the two reach a deal on how they will share power in the Senate, even though the Democrats have the majority, with Kamala Harris as the vote number 51 in a tie, the Republicans still control many of the Senate committees. This will affect the speed of any legislation that the Democrats want to move forward and Biden’s nominations being confirmed. 

Biden could only get two nominations confirmed this week, normally hearings for at least some of the incoming cabinet members are held prior to the inauguration. However with the Republicans refusal to recognize Joe Biden’s victory until the last minute and then the Senate in recess between the electoral college vote certification and the day before inauguration, meaning no hearings were held until the day before inauguration. 

As for the impeachment, Biden and the Democrats would like to do both at the same time but McConnell and the GOP have pushed back on the idea. Any time dedicated to impeachment then would take away from time spent on getting the administration up and running and getting a new stimulus package through. So the $1400 stimulus checks may still be a while in the coming.

A letter to the Senate ethics committee 

Seven Senate Democrats filed an ethics complaint on Thursday against Republican Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas and called for the Ethics Committee to investigate how their objections to the Electoral College votes on 6 January may have contributed to inciting the violent Capitol insurrection. 

The complaint comes as authorities are investigating hundreds of people in connection with the deadly pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol, including possible links to high-ranking Republicans who encouraged them. 

Federal prosecutors said earlier this month that they are looking at everyone involved in the riot, including the role Trump played in inciting it. District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine warned Sunday that Trump could possibly be charged by city prosecutors with "a misdemeanor, a six-month-in-jail maximum," amid fallout from the insurrection as per CNN.

Biden

Biden speeding up stimulus checks

(Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday will sign two executive orders aimed at speeding pandemic stimulus checks to families who need it most and increasing food aid for children who normally rely on school meals as a main source for nutrition.  

Biden, who has proposed a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, is using the two orders to try to ease the burden on people while the legislation is negotiated in Congress.

Some 16 million are now receiving some type of unemployment benefit, and an estimated 29 million don't have enough to eat. 

Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council said the actions are not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief, 'but they will provide a critical lifeline to millions of American families.'  

In the first order, Biden will ask the Treasury Department to consider taking steps to expand and improve delivery of stimulus checks, such as establishing online tools for claiming payments. As many as 8 million eligible households did not receive the payments issued in March according to a White House fact sheet.

Biden will also seek to increase access to food for millions of children who are missing meals because schools are closed due to the pandemic. He will ask the Agriculture Department to consider issuing new guidance that would increase the aid given to families who normally rely on schools to provide a main meal of the day for their children. It could provide a family with three children more than $100 of additional support every two months.  

Biden's second order will restore collective bargaining power and worker protections by revoking three related orders issued by President Donald Trump during his term, which ended on Wednesday. It also promotes a $15-an-hour minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has been at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Infrastructure stimulus spending 

Speaking at his confirmation hearing President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg pledged to senators to work with them to carry out the administration’s ambitious agenda to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.

Buttigieg hinted at a broad climate-centric role for the department that will require significant investments, on top of Biden’s proposed $1.9T coronavirus relief plan "Build Back Better".

Buttigieg pointed to a “generational opportunity” to create new jobs, fight economic inequality and stem climate change. “We need to build our economy back, better than ever, and the Department of Transportation can play a central role in this,” he told the committee.

Biden stimulus drives record highs

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed at record highs on Thursday, propelled by optimism about more pandemic relief under the Biden administration to support the economy after data showed a tepid labor market recovery, Reuters reported.

The Dow was also poised for a record until falling into negative territory in the final minutes of trading.

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits dipped to 900,000 last week but still remained stubbornly high as the covid-19 pandemic tears through the nation, raising the risk that the economy will shed jobs for a second straight month in January.

2021: stimulus, vaccines and the economy

The year 2020 will be long remembered for the devastation that it left behind for many, both related to the millions of deaths due to covid-19 and the financial hardship in its wake.

With the start of a vaccination programme underway - but still plenty of doubts over how successful and how quickly that will take hold - forecasts are being made over how 2021 could pan out.

From stimulus to healthcare, from quality to immigration

The first 100 days of a presidency set the tone for the rest of a president’s term. President Joe Biden has made his intentions known ever since announcing his intention to run for president. The Biden administration will move fast over the coming weeks to tackle the challenges confronting the US on a range of issues both domestic and foreign.

In his first day in office he hit the ground running quickly beginning to undo his predecessor's legacy signing 17 executive actions reversing course on immigration, racial equity, climate change, and the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Each day over the next week Biden will focus on one particular topic to clarify his administration’s strategy for moving forward.

Find out more:

Child care matters

'America’s child care providers have hit a breaking point,' begins this Vox post.

In a survey last summer, 86 percent said the covid-19 pandemic had hurt their enrollment. Seventy percent said it had driven up costs. With less money coming in and more going out, just 18 percent believed they could stay open longer than a year without some kind of help.

Those numbers are just one sign of a crisis that’s been brewing ever since the pandemic began spreading across the US.

Anna North has a look at how the Biden stimulus package can help with the provision of child care across the US.

Pass stimulus bill, Trump can wait

Clearly, in the world of US politics - especially given a recent, and tumultuous, changeover in administrations amid a global pandemic - policy and planning is a multilevel, bipartisan, interconnected challenge.

With Congress having a number of items on its plate right now, some observers believe that the main focus should be on approving the stimulus bill and confirming Biden's new cabinet, while aspects like convicting Donald Trump can wait until later.

Will Mitch McConnell see it the same way?

Collins against huge stimulus spending

“We just passed $900 billion worth of assistance; why we would have a package that big now? Maybe a couple of months from now the needs will be evident and we will need to do something significant. But I'm not seeing it right now” - United States Senator from Maine, Susan Collins (R).

As CNN's Manu Raju points out, 'if Biden can’t get Collins on board, Dems will have a problem getting 60 votes in the Senate and will have to rethink their plans - either passing it piecemeal now or use the budget reconciliation process to advance provisions later in the year.'

Vaccine

'Buying herd immunity' - stimulus check for those vaccinated

A Republican Congressman has stated that instead of sending stimulus checks to every qualifying American, direct payments should go to people who receive the coronavirus vaccine.

“I hope the administration will look at that option because we actually buy something with our $1,400 — and that’s herd immunity,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R., Ohio) in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live.

“It should be debt for the right things,” said Stivers. “The quickest thing we need to do if we really want to help the American people, is get this economy turned back on — get people back to work, get kids back in school, get ourselves some herd immunity, get the vaccine distributed as quick as we can and get the uptake rate up.

That's why I'd be willing to accept a $1,400 stimulus check if people are willing to take the vaccine.

"IRS stands ready to serve and assist" on stimulus checks

For all the political wrangling that has taken place to secure each round of stimulus check payments, far less has been paid to the mammoth administrative task that the IRS faces to get the money to the people as quickly as possible. 

In a talk with Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Charles Rettig said: “The IRS stands ready to serve and assist the American people." He added that the IRS could handle distribution of a proposed third round of stimulus check payments alongside dealing with a busy tax season.

Since the pandemic’s start, the IRS has already overseen one tax filing season and has nearly distributed two rounds of direct payments, each sending money to over 160 million Americans. 

EIP cards arriving instead of a stimulus check

The second round of covid-19 relief payments – a $600 stimulus check as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, were sent out between 29 December and 15 January. Many of those payments, particularly in the final week, were issued as an EIP 2 debit card, which was mailed out to individuals’ home addressed by post.

The EIP card should be easy to use and allows you to spend the same $600 amount in a variety of shops and online stores. Here's everything you need to know about using it. 

Federal spending up to $5trn Biden's stimulus bill

Last week President Joe Biden announced the American Rescue Plan, a financial relief package designed to give the covid-hit economy a boost. The $1.9trn bill, still yet to be passed but expected to be tabled in the coming days or weeks, includes a round of $1,400 stimulus checks

The Tax Foundation have totalled up the cost of the various economic stimulus measures introduced by the federal government. They found that in less than 12 months, the US government will have soon spent over $5 trillion on pandemic relief. 

Student loan forgiveness in stimulus relief bill

Following his inauguration ceremony, new US president Joe Biden was quickly back at work, and millions of students, past and present, are keen to know his plans. There are around 42 million Americans with federal student loan debt and payment forbearance was first included in the CARES Act signed in law last March. 

Biden has promised that his American Rescue Plan will focus on those worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but with so many in need of urgent assistance, who will get the support?

We asked Calum Roche to find out more.

Stimulus checks: waiting like Bernie!

Sen. Bernie Sanders' iconic inauguration pose (see more) has been reappropriated countless times on Twitter since it was first shared yesterday, but this could be the most fitting yet.

The progressive Senator looked pretty miserable at points on Wednesday, although that's pretty understandable given the chilly conditions.

Sanders has previously spoken out about the lack of direct support for Americans, and had previously called for an additional round of $2,000 payments to be made. As it stands, BIden's new covid relief bill will see $1,400 stimulus checks distributed. 

President Biden is in situ...now where are the next stimulus checks?

President Biden has presented a $1.9 trillion proposal to rescue the US from the covid-19 economic induced crisis, including a third round of direct payments to eligible Americans. But the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is wide ranging with portions drawing opposition from the Republicans and even from one Democratic senator.

The package would see an additional round of $1,400 stimulus checks (to 'top-up' the recent $600 payments to a nice, round $2,000) sent to each eligible American. 

Greg Heilman has a look at how the rollout is going.

Stimulus, masks, and all from Biden

In his first few hours in the White House President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive orders, many of which were aimed at adressing the previous administration's perceived failings. Chief among which is the new federal mask mandate, which will see mask-wearing become compulsory in federal spaces, such as federal buildings and inter-state travel. 

Speaking from the White House shortly after signing the executive order, Biden said that studies into mask-wearing that that "from now until April, we can save more than 50,000 lives". 

New administration promises transparency

Dr Anthony Fauci is deemed to be 'throwing shade' on the previous administration, telling reporters of the differences that he has noticed between Biden and Trump already. Whereas Fauci was often criticised by Trump for offering too honest an assessment of the seriousness of the virus, Biden has promised to work with him. 

We’re going to be completely transparent, open and honest,” said Dr. Fauci in the press conference, and he went on to hint that is a significant departure from his experience under Trump. "The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence and science is, and know that’s it — let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,"

No more bleach: Biden promises experts over politicians

During his election campaign Biden made clear that coronavirus would be the main focus for his early days in office and in a press conference from the White House he promised to listen to the science when deciding policy. In a not-too-subtle reference to his predecessor, President Biden said he would allow Dr Anthony Fauci and his team to "work free from political influence and will make decisions based on science and healthcare alone, not what the political consequences are".

Fauci was named Chief Medical Advisor to the President in the new administration and Biden will put his faith in the experiences professional to lead the covid response. Above all, Biden pledged to "always be transparent with you, about the good news and the bad". 

DT

Trump may need personal stimulus package

Some of former President Donald Trump's most high profile hospitality assets took a revenue hit last year as covid-19 lockdowns hurt business, according to a financial disclosure filed on Wednesday, his final day in office. For example, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, brought in $15.1 million in revenue in 2020 and the first three weeks of 2021, according to Trump's disclosure. That is down 62.7% from 2019, according to his 2019 disclosure.

The circumstances were similar at Trump property in Las Vegas, which saw revenues decline 60.5% to $9.2 million and at his Florida golf course, Trump National Doral, revenue down 42.7% to $44.2 million. A rare bright spot was Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is expected to spend most of his time post presidency. Revenue at that property, which Trump frequently used to host political allies and foreign dignitaries, climbed 13% year-on-year to reach $24.2 million. A useful, if questionable, profit from government business.

The regular financial disclosures Trump was required to file as president offer one of the fullest glimpses into the billionaire businessman's finances, as Trump steadfastly refused to release his tax returns, despite it being common practice for prior presidents. His final disclosure spanned 79 pages and detailed everything from his varied property holdings to how much he received in pension payments as a member of the Screen Actors Guild. It also included a number of gifts Trump received as president, including an Ultimate Fight Championship belt, valued at $650, from Colby Covington, a Trump-friendly fighter. It also details a number of sizeable liabilities owed by Trump's businesses, including five separate lines of credit worth at least $50 million apiece. Most of the debt disclosed by Trump is due to mature within the next four years.

NP

US House aims for early February Covid-19 relief bill vote

The US House of Representatives is planning to bring a coronavirus relief bill to a vote the first week of February, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday, as President Joe Biden's administration grapples with a crisis that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.

"We will be doing our committee work all next week so that we will be completely ready to go to the floor when we come back," Pelosi said.

Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 bill that would provide enhanced jobless benefits and direct cash payments to households struggling amid the economic fallout from the virus. Though Biden's Democratic party holds narrow majorities in the House and Senate, the legislation will likely need bipartisan support to clear procedural hurdles and emerge from the Senate.

Republican doubts

Some Republicans have raised questions about pushing out more direct payments on the heels of last month's enactment of a coronavirus aid bill. Many of them also oppose aid to state and local governments, a top priority of Democrats. Republican Senator Roy Blunt told reporters that while there were some items in the package he could back, he thought the proposal in its current form would be unlikely to pass.

"I suspect the whole package is a non-starter, but it's got plenty of starters in it," Blunt said.

Bernie calls for using "reconciliation" to pass ARP

Bernie Sanders presents his argument for using "reconciliation" a Senate parliamentary tool whereby legislation related to the budget can be passed with a simple majority of 51 votes Thus avoiding a filibuster which would put a 60-vote threshold for any bill to pass.

He wants the entirety of the American Rescue Plan to be passed, including $1400 stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits and a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour, just to name a few of the measures.

JB

Putting pen to paper

US President Joe Biden signs an executive order after speaking during an event on his administration's covid-19 response with US Vice President Kamala Harris in the background.

This took place in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, 21 January 2021. (Photo: Gtres)

Stimulus check and US latest news: welcome

Welcome to our live blog bringing you all the latest information on the proposed third round of stimulus checks, as well as live US political news that may affect it.

The focus this week was understandably on the departure of President Donald Trump from the White House and President Joe Biden's inauguration. But now that the veteren Democrat politician is in the hot seat, it's time to get down to business. And he hasn't been slow...

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