$1,400 third stimulus check news summary: 26 January

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US stimulus check news and latest updates: live

Headlines

- Stimulus check of up to $1,400 in new president's $1.9tn American Rescue Plan (when could it arrive?)

- Proposal for increased child tax credit of up to $3,600 per dependent in stimulus plan (further detail)

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

- Treasury to create new online portal to help make it easier to receive stimulus checks

- Growing number of GOP Senators publicly oppose new stimulus bill

Janet Yellen sworn in as first female Treasury secretary in US history

- Biden pushing for $50bn covid-19 testing programme

- Biden to impose South Africa travel ban to combat new covid-19 variant

- US covid cases/deaths: >25.4 million / >425,100 (live updates)

- House delivers impeachment article against Trump to Senate

Related articles:

Biden pledges to have 300m Americans vaccinated by fall

US President Joe Biden has vowed to get 300 million Americans vaccinated against covid-19 by "the end of the summer, beginning of the fall", saying his administration is taking steps to increase the country’s vaccine order by half.

“Today, I’m directing covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to increase our total supply of of vaccine for the American people,” Biden told a press conference on Tuesday.

“And we believe that we’ll soon be able to confirm the purchase of an addition 100 million doses for each of the two FDA-authorized vaccines - Pfizer and Moderna. That’s 100 million more doses of Pfizer and 100 million more doses of Moderna: 200 million more doses than the federal government has previously secured.”

Biden added: “We expect these additional 200 million doses to be delivered this summer […], and that increases the total vaccine order in the United States by 50%. From 400 million ordered to 600 million. This is enough vaccine to fully vaccinate 300 [million] Americans by the end of the summer, beginning of the fall.

Lower threshold for stimulus check is wise 

President Biden originally called for $1400 stimulus checks to top up the $600 direct payment authorized in December but didn’t stipulate who would get them. Although very popular among the public, lawmakers worry about cost and benefit of the measure. Biden has said that he is willing to negotiate with calls growing to target the aid solely to low- and moderate-income families. 

New data shows that families earning above the threshold of $75,000 typically save the stimulus payment whereas those below spend the money. The research shows that sending another round of checks to couples earning more than $75,000 and singles earning more than $50,000 would cost $200 billion. However it is estimated that those beneficiaries would only spend $15 billion of that money thus negating the boosting power to the economy.

Biden signs racial equality orders 

President Biden laid out his racial equity plan at the White House on Tuesday. Biden signed four new executive orders aimed at combating discriminatory housing practices, reforming the prison system, respecting sovereignty of Tribal governments and fighting xenophobia against Asian Americans.

As part of reforming the prison system Biden ordered his Department of Justice to phase out its contracts with private prisons. Biden has now signed 36 executive actions and memoradums.

A Green Deal 

BlackRock is the world's largest asset manager with a portfolio over $7 trillion. The company’s CEO Larry Fink told the CEOs at its portfolio companies to outline their plans for getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company put environmental sustainability at the center of its investment strategy last year.  

Part of President Biden has made climate one of the central issues in his “Build Back Better” plan. He calls for making the US energy grid 100 percent green by 2035.

Senator Patrick Leahy is home

Senator Leahy went to hospital hours after being sworn in to preside over former President Trump's second impeachment. After a brief visit to the hospital for observation and tests he has been sent home.

Economics isn’t just something you find in a textbook. It can be a potent tool to right past wrongs and improve people’s lives. That’s why so many of Treasury’s 84,000 public servants joined the Department. Today, I am proud to be one of them. 

(Janet Yellen was sworn in as Secretary of the Today)

 

 Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury

Senator Patrick Leahy hospitalized

Senator Leahy has been hospitalized out of an abundance of caution. He had been in his office when he started to feel unwell. After examination in the Capitol by the Attending Physician it was recommended that he be taken to hospital for observation. This came just hours after being sworn in and presiding over the opening of former President Trump's second impeachment trial. 

The 80-year-old Vermont Democrat is presiding over Trump's impeachment trial in lieu of Chief Justice John Roberts. The trial is on hold while the impeachment managers and Trump's legal team exchange pre-trial briefs for two weeks. The trial is set to begin 9 February. 

Harris

VP Kamala Harris gets second jab

Vice President Kamala Harris received her second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The Biden administration has promised to vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days. Monday he upped the ante and said he expects that the US will soon be able to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day, raising the bar by roughly 500,000. He said that the US could surpass the initial target in about three weeks.

Photo by Leah Millis

Hope for reopening schools 

The CDC reports that schools operating in person have seen very little spread of covid-19 when safety protocols are followed. However some indoor athletics, where wearing masks and distancing are not possible, have led to infections and should be curtailed.

This is good news for President Biden who has made getting kids back in schools one of his priorities. The CDC notes that communities should work to reduce overall levels of transmission in order to prevent school-based spread of the virus.

IMF says Biden’s stimulus plan could boost US economy by 5% 

Gita Gopinath, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, told Reuters President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan could lift US economic output by 5% over the next three years.  

The IMF believes that “There should be targeted support provided to struggling households and businesses,” in addition to speeding up vaccination and testing efforts. “We are still in an emergency situation in terms of the health crisis,” she said.  

She cautioned on the size of the proposed increase to the minimum wage saying that the target of $15 per hour was outside the range of increases seen elsewhere. But did say increasing the US federal minimum wage could help reduce poverty and persistent inequality.

Watch live: Biden speaks about covid-19 fight

Biden talks with Putin 

US President Joe Biden spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday for the first time since taking office, and the White House confirmed the topics covered. 

Read the full story: 

Biden’s first legal setback 

Delivering a blow to one of Biden's first immigration actions a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked his pause on deportations. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit challenging the 100-day pause on deportations. Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District of Texas blocked the Biden administration from executing its deportation pause for 14 days.The complaint cited in part an agreement signed between the Department of Homeland Security and Texas in the final days of the Trump presidency which required the department to consult the state before changing or modifying policies.

Will vaccines work on new covid-19 strains?

Both Pfizer and Moderna have carried out early lab tests on the efficacy of their existing vaccines on the new UK and South African variants of the novel coronavirus.

Read the full story:

Trump’s other trial 

As Trump prepares for his impeachment trial in the Senate, he has another case in front of Fakebook's “Supreme Court” to determine whether or not he can return to the platform after being banned. An oversight board set up by Facebook comprised of 40 international experts will have 90 days to make a binding decision once they hear arguments regarding Facebook’s decision to remove material from accounts or ban an account as in the case of Trump.

Targeted stimulus checks explained

As President Biden pushes for another round of stimulus payments for most Americans, calls are escalating to target the aid solely to low- and moderate-income families, and new data suggests that would provide the most needed and effective boost for the economy.

Families earning under about $75,000 typically spend the money quickly, according to a new analysis of how Americans are using the $600 economic impact payments this month by Opportunity Insights, a nonprofit research organization. Families earning above that threshold typically save the stimulus payment, which provides little help to the overall economy and signals the money was not as urgently needed.

Lawmakers from both parties lobbied the White House over the weekend for a less costly relief package that would only send stimulus payments to the most needy. Under Biden’s proposal, the vast majority of US households would receive $1,400 payments.

The Washington Post investigates.

Targeting the stimulus payments to lower-income households would both better support the households most in need and provide a large boost to the economy in the short-run.

“These checks are really impactful for lower-income households.”

John N. Friedman, Economics Professor at Brown

'A refundable child tax credit could half child poverty'

President Joe Biden got straight to work as the new US leader following his inauguration on 6 January. A flurry of executive orders had his Oval Office signature of approval in the first few days and as part of a $1.9tn American Rescue Plan (ARP), he has called for families to receive an increased child tax credit of up to $3,600 per dependent.

With Americans still asking questions about when they are likely to see the third round of stimulus checks arrive, they are also keen to understand who will be eligible for this extended credit and how they will benefit from it.

We look into what it is, who could benefit, and the wider implications:

Golden State stimulus check: can I apply?

Earlier this month Governor Gavin Newsom of California proposed a bonus check of up to $600 at state level for those most in need of economic help due to coronavirus.

Has the budget been approved and can you apply for yours yet?

Former WH press sec. McEnany in talks to be contributor at Fox News: now paused

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in financial disclosure documents published Tuesday indicated that she had an agreement in place to join Fox News this month, but a source familiar with the matter says those discussions are now paused.

Biden ups covid-19 vaccine target, scheme on track

The previous target of 1m vaccines a day was largely being met, so President Joe Biden has decided to increase to goal by 50%, to 1.5 million.

Biden's dogs Champ and Major arrive at their new home

Sunday President and First Lady Biden's dogs Champ and Major arrived at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

"The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware. Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn," First Lady Jill Biden's press secretary Michael LaRosa told CNN in a statement Monday.

The Bidens' dogs moving in marks a return to a longstanding tradition of Presidents and their families bringing their pets with them to the White House.

Former President Donald Trump and his family did not have any pets for the four years they lived in the White House.

History made: Janet Yellen sworn in by Kamala Harris

In a momentous moment Janet Yellen was sworn in today as Treasury Secretary - the first woman ever to hold the role in the department's 232-year history. 

Vice President Kamala Harris - also the first woman to ever hold the office - did the honours this afternoon on the East Landing of the White House.

BREAKING: new legislation proposed to raise federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025

House and Senate Democrats introduce legislation to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 by 2025 via NBC News.

When I could have tried to grab this power, I turned it down. I am grateful that’s been reciprocated by at least a pair of our colleagues across the aisle. I’m glad we’ve stepped back from this cliff. Taking that plunge would not be some progressive dream. It would be a nightmare. I guarantee it.

(With reference to the power he held as previous Senate Majority Leader and the two Democrats who have supported protecting the filibuster.)

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

Trump has opened "Office of the Former President" in Florida

Former president Donald Trump announced Monday the official opening of the "Office of the Former President" in Palm Beach County, Florida, which is tasked with overseeing the 45th president's official activities in his post-presidency life, according to CBS News.

"The office will be responsible for managing President Trump's correspondence, public statements, appearances and official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump administration through advocacy, organizing and public activism," the office said in a statement. "President Trump will always and forever be a champion for the American people."

Biden to make announcements on racial equality this afternoon

President Joe Biden’s @POTUS account is tweets this morning ahead of today’s expected announcements on the administration’s racial equity agenda, saying that “America has never lived up to its founding promise of equality for all.”

Third stimulus proposal: how will it treat adults, couples and children?

Supporting families and businesses to survive and then recover from the coronavirus health and economic crisis is Joe Biden’s number one priority.

President Biden to address nation on fight to contain the coronavirus

Joe Biden is expected to speak at 2pm EST today about his racial equity agenda and to sign executive orders which will address policing, housing and prison conditions.

Another event has just been added to his public schedule – a 4:45pm address on the fight against the covid-19 pandemic.

Filibuster protected as 2 Democrats support McConnell's cause

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won the filibuster battle on Monday, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer faced mounting pressure from his home state to end the procedural tool amidst a potential primary challenge.

Two Democratic senators—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—affirmed their support for protecting the 60-vote legislative filibuster today. Their positions have assured Republicans that Democrats don't have enough votes to nix the procedural tool despite escalating pressure from progressives and outside left-wing activist groups.

Shortly after, McConnell confirmed that power sharing negotiations will continue after days of deadlock over how to organise the 50-50 split Senate.

WATCH: procession towards the Senate delivers article of impeachment against Donald Trump

Greta starts the week with a tax and vax truth-bomb

In the BBC article the 18 year old Swedish environmental activist shared, the organisation Oxfam is urging governments to consider taxes on the super-rich.

This in light of news that the combined wealth of the world's 10 richest men rose by $540bn (£400bn) during the pandemic, according to Oxfam.

The charity claims this amount would be enough to prevent the world from falling into poverty because of the virus, and pay for vaccines for all.

Comparing Trump and Biden’s stimulus packages

From the first stimulus check via the CARES Act, through December's bill and the American Rescue Plan, what’s the difference between what Biden and Trump offer?

Read more: 

 

Feds providing $25 billion in pandemic rental aid

A $25 billion federal rescue effort is underway to help the millions of Americans who are months behind on their rent and utility bills. 

Starting last week, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide money to cities and counties that have rental assistance programs. A renter or landlord can apply for the funds and, if approved, the money can pay up to 12 months of overdue rent, including late fees, or the next three months of pending payments. 

To qualify for the assistance, at least one member of your household has to have lost income or incurred significant expenses due to the pandemic, or be eligible for unemployment benefits. You will also need to demonstrate a risk of homelessness.

Janet Yellen to be first female US treasury secretary in history

Janet Yellen has been confirmed as the first ever female US treasury secretary in a Senate vote. She will be responsible for guiding the Biden administration's economic response to the pandemic.

Yellen fully supports a comprehensive pandemic relief package and said last week that “the smartest thing we can do is act big”. In her statement to the Senate finance committee, she stated, “Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time”.

What big investors are saying about the Biden's $1.9 billion relief bill?

President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill is designed to shore up finances until the pandemic is over, one investor fears it will overheat the market.

Read more: 

Biden may adjust income threshold for third stimulus check

President Joe Biden has hinted that the income thresholds required for his proposed $1,400 stimulus check could be changed so that high-earning Americans who have been less affected by the economic downturn would not quality for the payment, Newsweek reports.

"There is legitimate reason for people to say, 'Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars? I'm open to negotiate those things. I'm confident, from my discussions, there are a number of Republicans who know we have to do something about the food insecurity for people in this pandemic. I'm confident they know we have to do something,'" Biden told journalists yesterday.

 

Third stimulus checks of $1,400 likely to be approved by mid-March

Economists and lawmakers believe a third round of Covid-19 stimulus checks could be issued by late March or sooner, as the Biden administration and many in Congress are pressing for the $1,400 check plan to be approved before former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins early next month.

Heights Securities analyst Hunter Hammond told CBS News that the $1,400 checks are likely to be passed as part of a scaled-down package by the end of March, while Alec Phillips, the chief U.S. political economist for Goldman Sachs, told the outlet that he believes a package including the checks will pass sometime between mid-February and mid-March.

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.

President Joe Biden is in his first full week at the Oval Office while the article of impeachment against Donald Trump for inciting the 6 January insurrection at the Capitol was delivered to the Senate yesterday.

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