CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

$2000 third stimulus check: what did Biden say originally about it?

Joe Biden promised voters in Georgia that he would push for $2000 stimulus checks if the voters delivered him both Senators. Now he is trying to deliver.

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$2000 third stimulus check: what did Biden say originally about it?
TOM BRENNER REUTERS

President Joe Biden will meet this week with 10 GOP lawmakers to discuss an alternative covid-19 relief plan they authored with a parred down stimulus check. This new proposal comes after the White House received a proposal from House progressives calling on him to prioritize recurring payments over a one-time payment for those most in need.

Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief plan, called the American Rescue Plan, calls for a new round of direct payments of $1400 among other items. This measure would fulfill a campaign promise he made to voters in Georgia if they could deliver him a Democrat-controled Senate. However he is receiving blowback for not pushing for the whole $2000 amount.

Why did Biden call for a $1400 stimulus check

At the eleventh hour in December, lawmakers pulled together a $900 billion bipartisan deal to get more coronavirus relief funds out to the relapsing America economy and struggling households. Part of that plan included a last-minute call for a new round of stimulus checks of $600 for eligible adults and children. The payments were seen as insufficient from the get-go and a push for a larger payment came from both sides of the aisle when former President Trump finally joined the conversation, calling for $2000 payments instead.

Biden originally put his support behind the smaller payment to get something out the door before the close of the year, calling it a “down payment” with plans to enact further stimulus once he was in office. With a tight race in the Georgia senatorial run-off races set to take place in early January, Biden made a promise to voters that he would push for a $2000 payment if both Senate seats went to Democrats. In a speech the day before the run-off election Biden said  "By electing Jon and the reverend, you can make an immediate difference to your own lives, the lives of the 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 would go out the door immediately to help people who are in real trouble."

Biden calls for $1400 stimulus checks

In a very close race, the Democrats clinched both Senate seats, giving the party control of the Senate now split evenly 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris the tie-breaking vote. Now Biden and the Democrats have unified control of Washington for the first time since the start of the Obama administration. At a press conference from Wilmington after the outcome in the Georgia races was no longer in doubt Biden said “We need to provide more immediate relief for families and businesses now.”

Biden followed through on his promise a week later putting a third round of direct payments for $1400 in his American Rescue Plan, a sweeping $1.9 trillion plan to tackle the numerous issues facing the US economy. “We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most. The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough,” Biden said. The $1400 would top up the $600 payments to adults already authorized raising the total to $2000 between the two payments thus fulfilling his promise to voters. Immediately he encountered resistance on a number of fronts.

$2000 or $1400 stimulus check

From his own party the House progressive wing was calling for $2000 payments, “$2,000 means $2,000. $2,000 does not mean $1,400, ″ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said. In the Senate, Joe Manchin balked “I don’t know where in the hell $2,000 came from.” Manchin was worried that the payments were going out to individuals who didn’t need the money and wanted a more focused payment for the most in need.

On the Republican side, they were agasp at the size of the overall bill, along with some of the measures included in it particularly the call for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Senator Marco Rubio called for direct payments of $2000 going out separately from the rest of the package.

New proposals for stimulus checks

Now though, a new proposal has been put forward by 10 GOP members of the Senate to trim down the size of the payments to $1000. They also call for lowering the threshold for those that would qualify to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for couples. Their plan is dramatically smaller than Biden’s plan coming in at $600 billion less than a third of what Biden is calling for. Biden has agreed to meet with the lawmakers in his attempt to find bipartisan unity.

Reducing the threshold mirrors a new proposal from House progressives, however they haven’t given specific numbers of what that lower threshold would be. Unlike their Republican counterparts though, they call for creating recurring direct payments instead of a one-time payment for the duration of the pandemic. This is similar to an earlier proposal presented by Vice President Kamala Harris last year while she was still a senator.

What will eventually come out of the negotiations isn’t clear. Biden has said that he wants to be flexible and reach a bipartisan consensus. However he has also expressed urgency to get relief out to the American public. He and his allies in the Senate have the budgetary tool of reconciliation they can use to go around Republicans and pass any new measures with just a simple majority. They will need to be selective with what they use reconciliation for as they can only use it once per budget.