Third stimulus check: summary and news on 16 February 2021

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Stimulus checks: latest news


- Congress on recess, as Democrats continue work on stimulus relief bill (full story)

- President Biden to pitch stimulus bill in Wisconsin today

- Governor Larry Hogan signs bipartisan $1.2 billion RELIEF Act in Maryland

- Stimulus checks and child tax credits approved by House Ways and Means Committee (full story)

- Progressive lawmakers table new proposal for $2,000 stimulus checks

- President Biden urges Congress to "pass the American Rescue Plan and deliver much-needed relief"

- IRS issues guidelines on stimulus checks rebates as we enter tax season (how to claim)

- Child tax credit and stimulus check boost could halve child poverty in the US

- Biden commits to $1,400 stimulus checks, but eligibility still being discussed (full story)

- Senate adopts budget resolution that will allow the $1.9tn stimulus bill to be passed

- Over 50 House progressives sign letter calling for stimulus check thresholds to remain the same

- For the latest stimulus check news in Spanish (las noticias sobre los cheques de estímulo en español a través de este enlace)

- US covid-19 cases/deaths: 27.7 million / 487,656 (live updates)

Biden says no to $50,000 student debt forgiveness

When the audience member asked the president what he will do to cancel $50,000 of student loans, Biden responded: “I will not make that happen.” Biden has proposed student loan debt cancellation for borrowers of $10,000. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren want Biden to cancel up to $50,000 of student loans by executive order. However Biden said that he feels that money would be better spent on early childhood education. 

The $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill includes funding for higher education institutions but does not call for student debt cancellation. Institutions will decide how to distribute the grants to students. Shortly after taking office President Biden extend the moratorium on student loan payments and interest on those loans. 

Biden defends raising minimum wage to $15 per hour

Speaking at a townhall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin President Biden defended why the minimum wage should be raised to $15 per hour. If the current $7.25 minimum wage had been tied to the index people would be making $20 an hour now. 

The proposal is one of many in the sweeping $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill being pushed through Congress right now, with the House expected to pass their version some time next week. The bill also includes $1400 stimulus checks, new tax provisions and extending pandemic unemployment benefits.

Kudlow advocates for lower taxes not stimulus 

Larry Kudlow, the ex-director of former President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, made his debut  on Fox Business Network on Tuesday. He interviewed former US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who suggested he would like to see further relief bills passed. 

Mnuchin said that traditional ways of thinking about spending and the economy are irrelevant since the ongoing recession isn’t economically driven. However he cautioned against using reconciliation as a general spending tool. Democrats in Congress are using reconciliation to push the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill through Congress to avoid a possible GOP filibuster so they can pass the package with a simple 51-vote majority.  

Kudlow apparently has his own opinion, suggesting that tax cuts would be a better option than providing spending bills such as the one Congress is working on including the $1400 stimulus checks. Earlier in the month he was critical of another round of stimulus checks, saying they would be spent on stocks. However back in July when the Trump administration proposed including $1200 stimulus checks in a second round of stimulus it was part of a “well rounded package”. 

Stimulus checks helped consumer spending in January 

After falling for two straight months in November and December, it looks likely that consumer spending in January will rise. The US Census Bureau will release data on Wednesday expected to show Retail sales increased 1.2% last month. This rise was aided in part by federal stimulus checks. Economists expect the trend to continue, as the number of new Covid cases decline and more businesses resume normal operations.

House to vote on covid-19 and stimulus checks next week 

The House of Representatives has been plowing its coronavirus legislation through committees with the intention to get the passed by the end of the month. Now it seems that will happen according to chief congressional correspondent for CNN Manu Raju per a source who was privy to a call with Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer. The $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill will come up for a vote next week, with the House changing their schedule to meet four days next week starting Tuesday. 

The sweeping legislation contains measures to reopen schools, aid small businesses, fund vaccine distribution, and help the finances of state and local governments. As well, the bill includes $1400 stimulus checks to aid families struggling due to the economic downturn and extending unemployment benefits programs due to expire mid-March.

$1400 stimulus checks just “instant gratification”? 

As Congress moves forward with the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill the debate continues about how effective the money spent will be. The chief economist of the IMF said the American Rescue Plan could boost U.S. economic output by another 1.25% in 2021 and 5% over the next three years. 

However scholars at Wharton School of Business have an opposing view. Their analysis of the plan found that the massive package would only cause a “slight uptick” in economic growth in 2021. But afterwards rising government debt caused by the legislation would undermine any gains in the medium-to-long term.

$1400 stimulus checks and tax credits to reduce taxpayers’ bill 

President Joe Biden is traveling the country this week to drum up public support for his $1.9 trillion relief plan, which closely aligns with legislation moving forward in Congress. He will begin his national tour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he is participating in a CNN townhall on Tuesday to discuss his plan with voters at 9 pm ET. 

According the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center the covid-19 relief bill House Democrats have proposed so far would reduce household federal tax bills by an average of $3,100 this year, as per CNN.  

The tax savings for individuals would come from four major provisions in the legislation advanced last week: 

- The $1,400 stimulus payments. 

- An expanded child tax credit. 

- An expanded income tax credit. 

- And a boost to the tax credit for those paying for child care.

Hogan sells Maryland bipartisan stimulus to Washington 

After signing a $1.2 billion RELIEF Act on Monday, Governor Larry Hogan is continuing his pressure campaign on President Biden and GOP lawmakers in Washington to work together. Logan wants both sides to make significant concessions in pursuit of a coronavirus stimulus deal that can be passed on a bipartisan basis. 

On Tuesday Logan released an ad titled "Real Bipartisan Action," to tout Maryland's managing to pass nearly unanimously a state-level stimulus bill with an overwhelmingly Democratic general assembly. The bill includes a stimulus check package for residents in lower income brackets with immediate payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Hogan warns that if Biden moves forward with a massive spending bill without making some concessions to Republicans, he risks poisoning the well for the rest of his term.

Democrats return focus to covid-19 relief and stimulus checks 

Now that former president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is out of the way in the Senate, Democrats are preparing to push the coronavirus legislation through Congress. The House expects to put the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief package to a floor vote next week.  

Despite divisions within the House Democratic caucus, Democrats have largely unified behind the legislation. Nine House committees passed their individual portions of the bill last week, fighting back GOP attempts to alter it with dozens of amendments. 

Using budgetary reconciliation the Democrats are pushing the legislation forward without GOP support. Dems are defending their approach, saying they need to act quickly to inject more money into the health-care system and stabilize the economy still reeling from the pandemic induced crisis. 

Democrats hope to pass the bill before mid-March when expanded unemployment benefits along with other pandemic-related relief programs are set to expire.

IRS backlog affecting taxpayers and stimulus checks 

ProPublica reports, as of 29 January the IRS still hadn’t processed 6.7 million individual returns for the 2019 tax year. This has led to many headaches for taxpayers, who the IRS says owe money that has already been paid to the agency. For other taxpayers who rely on their tax refund to top up finances, those refunds never came. 

It has also caused delays in sending out the second stimulus payment of $600, which can’t be sent automatically unless a 2019 tax return has been processed. This could furthermore affect the next round of payments when Congress passes the latest covid-19 relief bill lawmakers are working on.  

How did it happen? The agency has been starved of funding over the past decade following steep congressional budget cuts pushed by Republicans. They objected to the agency’s role in administering the Affordable Care Act. This has led to a 22% decline in the workforce.  

On top of that, along with the 2019 government shutdown which forced the IRS to stop operations creating a backlog, helped delay the implementation of new software systems that could have made more processes paperless and automated.

Group urges WI GOP Senator to stop blocking $1400 stimulus checks 

Opportunity Wisconsin, is running TV ads in several media markets across Wisconsin urging the state’s Republican US Senator Ron Johnson to stop blocking stimulus checks. Johnson voted twice against the stimulus checks on previous occasions. He has argued that covid-19 relief need to be more focused due to concerns about the country's debt. 

The $1 million television ad campaign is set to start on Tuesday the same day President Joe Biden is scheduled to arrive in Wisconsin. Biden will do a CNN town hall in Milwaukee with voters while visiting the state to press his case for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill.


Should I invest my stimulus check in Bitcoin?

We’re seeing this question repeated around the web, with a number of people enthusiastically boosting the crypto currency as a good investment for stimulus money.

There’s no doubt bitcoin has had a wild ride upwards recently, hitting $20,000 in December and then going on to break $50,000 earlier today (it's since fallen back to 48k) tempting people to put their money in (the thinking being: "well, if it nearly doubled in a month it can do it again…") The digital currency also got a boost recently when car maker Tesla announced it had bought $1.5 billion in bitcoin and is considering accepting bitcoin as payment for cars.

Curiously one of the things driving bitcoin’s price higher may in fact be the stimulus check payments themselves. While huge swathes of the US economy are hurting and in desperate need of the relief payments, with such a broad measure there are people who don’t need the money right now and they are looking for places to stash it, and possibly get a return on it too.

We certainly don’t give out investment advice of any nature, but would recommend extreme caution if thinking of investing in bitcoin. If a sell off starts happening the price could head southwards extremely fast - investing at a peak is a very painful thing to do. And it’s worth noting Bitcoin’s price has fallen dramatically before, tumbling 65% in early 2018. There are other worries about bitcoin too, such as lack of regulation, ability to spend it, security and the possibility of locking yourself out of your money, such as the chap who forgot the password for a hard drive containing $220 million worth…

Stimulus Check painting

Stimulus check art

Given their enormous impact across society, there was no doubt the stimulus checks would inspire art. Here’s one piece, acrylic on canvas, called ‘Stimulus Check Painting’ by artist Tracy Dixon, which is available on Saatchi Art, where you can see the full work.

Dixon’s description: “What I spent my stimulus on. Also, just all the madness, boredom and creativity that comes with lock down. It is ironic, because this is usually a social thing, surrounded by art.”

So when could the next stimulus checks arrive?

If we work out from the Stimulus package passing Congress on Friday 12 March, it could be rapidly signed into law on Sunday 14 March. That would mean the first direct deposits should be made in the week of 22 March, with the first paper checks going out in the week of Monday 29 March and the EIP cards following out in the week of 5 April.

Of course that all depends on the legislation getting passed on that starting date - any slippage there and the whole thing gets pushed back. Pelosi said though back on 11 February that the Dems are working to a very final deadline of having the law passed by March 14, when some unemployment benefits expire.

One thing to note, those payment dates are likely the earliest possible - some people will receive their stimulus payment later, as happened with the first and second stimulus checks.

Stimulus checks will not be taxed

ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis discusses stimulus checks and the 2020 tax filing season. As Jarvis points out, in case you were not aware, stimulus checks will not be considered taxable income.

And on the other hand, if you are one of those people who didn't recieve a stimulus check despite being entitled to one, you can file for it in your taxes to claim the money...

How to get stimulus check faster and ensure you get the maximum payment possible

Democrats are working on the details of a massive stimulus bill with a third stimulus check. What can you do to get paid the maximum possible, fast?

Read the full story:

Mississippi Senator proves partisan attitude towards coronavirus relief spending and stimulus checks

Echoing arguments he last made when another Democrat, Barack Obama, was president, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker spoke out against President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats’ $1.9-trillion economic-stimulus plan, claiming it “would add to the mountain of debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay.”

Democrats’ economic relief bill would send $1,400 in direct payments to Americans, extend aid for unemployed Americans and give families with children up to $3,600 a year per child.

Sen. Wicker’s opposition to the current economic-stimulus proposal and his criticisms of its $1.9-trillion price tag come after he voted for about $3.6 trillion in stimulus and relief spending under President Trump in 2020. 

New Maryland stimulus checks: who is eligible?

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has now signed a bipartisan stimulus bill worth $1.2 billion called the RELIEF Act. Find out what's in it and who's eligible.

Unexpected bonuses of the December coronavirus relief bill

The New York Times reports today that as Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by Congress in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.

The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorising little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives.

"One such initiative was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces.

"The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark."

Read more at the New York Times.

Your stimulus check eligibility is affected by your tax return calculations

You've got until 15 April 2021 to file your federal 2020 tax return. Here's how to get started and how you can track your tax rebate once it's done.

Stimulus plan would boost incomes for nation’s poorest by 33%, analysis shows

New Maryland stimulus bill: what will my check be? 

Governor of Maryland Larry Hogan has now signed a bipartisan stimulus bill worth $1.2 billion called the RELIEF Act. Here’s all you need to know.

Comparing eligibility for stimulus checks past and present

Via some rather pleasing graphs, Bloomberg have made visual a comparison between the current Democrat stimulus relief bill proposal with the bipartisan December bill, and the CARES Act which was approved back in March 2020.

"House Democrats are proposing a new round of U.S. stimulus payments -- this time in the amount of $1,400. Singles earning up to $75,000 or married couples making $150,000 will see bigger payouts than in previous rounds, but the payments phase down more quickly. Individuals making $100,000 or more, or joint taxpayers making $200,000 and up won’t get anything."

Maryland stimulus checks: how much and for who?

Yesterday Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan approved a targeted stimulus check package for residents in lower income brackets. 

This relief begins with immediate payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Similar to federal stimulus payments, no application for relief is necessary.

Marylanders would qualify for these payments who annually earn: 

- $50,954 ($56,844 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

- $47,440 ($53,330 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

- $41,756 ($47,646 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

- $15,820 ($21,710 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

The payments provide $178 million in relief to 400,000 Marylanders. In addition, the legislation increases the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit to 45% for families and 100% for individuals.

Poll of New Yorkers shows support for third stimulus check strongest in under 35 y/o

In a Siena Poll of New Yorkers, 90% of 18-35 year olds were in favour of the new $1400 stimulus checks. Generally across all age groups support was high.

The poll also showed New Yorkers overwhelmingly support Biden’s $1.9T covid relief plan and that 16% of voters have been vaccinated; 59% plan to get vaccine; 22% do not.


Will your stimulus checks be taxed?

You won’t have to pay tax on your stimulus check, and we tell you why. Also information from your tax return will be used to calculate the amount you qualify for.

Read the full story:

Tax Return affects stimulus check eligibility: file now or wait?

Because your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) affects your stimulus check total amount, depending on whether your income went up or down in fiscal year 2020, you might want to file your federal taxes quickly before the third check is passed, or wait so that they calculate based on 2019's income.

Stimulus check tour: Biden hits the road

US President Joe Biden will travel to Wisconsin today to press his case for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the political battleground state that helped secure his victory in last year's presidential election.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said last week that Biden would do a CNN town hall with voters while visiting the state, hard hit by the pandemic and its economic fallout.

"That's an opportunity to hear directly from people about how the dual crises are impacting them," she told reporters.

Biden has traveled to his home state of Delaware and to the Camp David presidential retreat since taking office on 20 January, but the trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin's largest city, is his first on official business since becoming commander-in-chief.

The state, which has 10 Electoral College votes, sided with the Democratic president over Donald Trump, then the Republican incumbent, by a narrow margin in the November election.

Renewed stimulus focus

With the US Senate having acquitted Trump in his second impeachment trial on Saturday, the White House is eager to press ahead with Biden's agenda on the economy, fighting covid-19, curbing climate change and addressing racial inequality.

Biden wants Congress to pass his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the coming weeks in order to get $1,400 stimulus checks out to Americans and bolster unemployment payments.

The White House strategy to promote the package and other policy goals involves getting out to voters. Having been vaccinated for the coronavirus, Biden, 78, is stepping up his travel in coming days.

On Thursday he will visit Michigan, another political swing state, to see a Pfizer manufacturing site and talk to workers involved in making the company's covid-19 vaccine. Its 16 Electoral College votes also contributed to Biden's election win.

Biden stimulus knock-back after Trump spending support

Echoing arguments he last made when another Democrat, Barack Obama, was president, US Sen. Roger Wicker spoke out against President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats’ $1.9-trillion economic-stimulus plan, claiming it “would add to the mountain of debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay.”

Sen. Wicker’s opposition to the current economic-stimulus proposal and his criticisms of its $1.9-trillion price tag come after he voted for about $3.6 trillion in stimulus and relief spending under President Trump in 2020. 

Ashton Pittman reports on the perceived Wicker contradiction.

GDP impact of stimulus relief

Bloomberg's Christophe Barraud has been assessing the likely effects of President Biden's new relief package and suggests that 'total excess savings should exceed $2Trn in early 2Q and would translate into a bounce of real PCE.'

He continues that, 'Coupled with a global synchronised recovery, GDP will probably skyrocket in 2Q, creating a very strong base effect for the full year.'

'Poorest will feel stimulus benefit'

According to the report, those in the lowest income bracket should see an increase of around a third.

The question on the lips of those individuals and families, of course, is how quickly they are likely to see the returns.


US stimulus boosts global shares

European shares hovered near one-year highs on Tuesday as investors held out for a bumper US stimulus package to drive global economic growth, while Glencore led a rally among mining stocks following an upbeat trading update.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.2% by 0802 GMT, after jumping 1.3% in the previous session to its highest level since February 2020. The index is about 14% below its all-time high.

Glencore jumped 3.3% after reinstating its dividend, while BHP Group rose 0.3% as the world's largest listed miner posted its best first-half profit in seven years and declared a record interim dividend.

The European mining index jumped 1.5% to its highest level since July 2011.

Investor focus will shift to a flash reading of the euro zone's fourth-quarter GDP estimate later in the day, with Reuters economists expecting the economy to have contracted 5.1% year-on-year.

Iraqi veteren denied stimulus check

When the computer says 'no' things can go wrong, as Franklin Jackson from Wichita, Kansas, can attest to. Jackson says that the federal government owes him not one, but two income tax refunds, according to a report on Tuesday.

But he isn’t getting this money because the Internal Revenue Service allegedly told him its records list him as “deceased.” The 52-year-old veteran served in Desert Storm and the Iraq War - and now works at Kaman Composites.

Despite being able to back up who he is and his status with several documents and identification cards - the IRS still have him down as being deceased.

We're confident that this will be resolved.

Stimulus aid aligned with the vaccine rollout

As millions of Americans await further financial support via Joe Biden's stimulus relief package, there is a clear understanding that the overall recovery of the country will come as the covid-19 vaccine is injected into more and more arms. And for that we need more and more venues.

Los Angeles will open Dodger Stadium along with other vaccination sites again this week. However due to limited supplies the vast majority of shots administered will be second doses starting Tuesday.  

People vaccinated in mid-January were automatically slotted into appointments for most of the city’s anticipated weekly supply. Just 4,600 doses will be set aside for initial inoculations.  

Last week the vaccination sites were closed due to shortages of the two available covid-19 vaccines. The Biden administration has been working to ramp up vaccine production and distribution around the country. Providers across the country are administering about 1.67 million doses per day on average. 

Unravelling unemployment claims in New York

Since March 2020, New York State has distributed over $62 billion in unemployment benefits to four million New Yorkers. This amounts to more than would typically be given out in 29 years. This figure includes over $1 billion paid during the week of 4 January 2021 to New Yorkers through newly-extended federal unemployment programs.

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced as part of his 2021 State of the State a proposal to boost partial Unemployment Insurance benefits to New Yorkers who return to work part-time. The plan ensures unemployed New Yorkers who accept part-time work are not penalised, as the calculation of their partial unemployment benefits would be based on the hours they actually work, rather than the number of days they work in a given week.

Find out how to apply, when you need to sign up, and some other tips if things don't go as smoothly as you'd hoped.

Maryland stimulus checks approved

As we have already reported, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan approved the RELIEF Act of 2021 yesterday, which promises direct stimulus checks to low to moderate income families. Here's a brief summary:

This relief begins with immediate payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Similar to federal stimulus payments, no application for relief is necessary.

Marylanders would qualify for these payments who annually earn: 

- $50,954 ($56,844 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children

- $47,440 ($53,330 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

- $41,756 ($47,646 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child

- $15,820 ($21,710 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

The payments provide $178 million in relief to 400,000 Marylanders.  In addition, the legislation increases the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit to 45% for families and 100% for individuals.

The RELIEF Act also enhances the Earned Income Tax Credit for these same 400,000 Marylanders by an estimated $478 million over the next three tax years.

Maryland RELIEF Act comes to low-income rescue

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, with the leaders of the General Assembly, signed the RELIEF Act of 2021 into law on Monday. The package of measures was put together in under three weeks and passed through both chambers with near unanimous support. The newly signed $1-plus billion legislation includes money that will be directly sent to low-income taxpayers and sweeping tax relief for small businesses.  

The RELIEF Act provides $500 for low-income families and $300 for individuals who filed for the earned income tax credit in 2019. The funds will be available for the next three years in the form of tax refunds. The bill also offers $1,000 to people with unsettled unemployment claims. 

The bill allows small business to keep up to $3,000 in sales tax they collect for up to three months. Employers who laid people off during the pandemic will not have to pay increased unemployment insurance taxes.

"Maryland, once again, has shown the nation that both parties can still come together, that we can still put the people's priorities first and that we can deliver real bipartisan, commonsense solutions to the serious problems that face us," Hogan said.

$1,400 or $2,000 stimulus checks?

The negotiations in Congress on a stimulus bill worth $1.9tn, which would bring with it a third stimulus check of up to $1,400 are on hold this week, at least from moving to a vote, with the Senate in recess until Monday 22 February.

But as the detail of the bill continues to be progressed by Democrats this week, there appear to still be some people pushing to raise the total checks in the bill to more than $1,400.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted on Sunday;

“Thank you @USProgressives for your leadership. The Covid Bill in the House increases stimulus checks to $2000 for the working class, raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, cuts childhood poverty in half and extends unemployment benefits. The Senate must prepare to act quickly.”

What is going on? We have a look.

$25 billion stimulus to be served up for restaurants 

A bill to specifically help the hospitality industry was left out of the coronavirus relief bill in December. The Restaurants Act would have provided $120 billion in grants for independent restaurants. The $900 billion package did offer another round of PPP forgivable loans with the rules on what they spend that money on being looser. 

In the new round of stimulus moving its way through Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is advocating for $25 billion in aid specifically for restaurants to be included.  

At the start of the program, grants will be prioritized for businesses owned by veterans or women. As well, economically and socially disadvantaged businesses would receive priority during the first few weeks.

Unemployment benefit for stimulus boost

Unemployed workers could see their federal benefits boost increase from $300 to $400 a week if Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is approved by Congress.

As part of the $900 billion Covid-19 relief package signed into law by Donald Trump in late December, unemployed workers have been receiving an additional federal payment of $300 on top of their normal state payments. But that extra benefit is set to end after mid-March for some workers and after April 11 for others.

We have a look at what and how the amendments could come into play.

Stimulus needs in a state

According to a Washington Post analysis of government data, state and local governments have shed 1.3 million jobs since the pandemic began last year. That represents a loss of more than 1 in 20 government jobs due to deep budget shortfalls. The toll has been felt in both Republican-led states and Democratic-led ones. 

Congressional Democrats are trying to swiftly push through a covid-19 relief bill that includes funds to rescue struggling state and local governments. Currently $350 billion in aid has been set aside in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus legislation based on the framework of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.  

Republicans oppose the idea, calling it a “blue state bailout” that would reward poor local financial management. Biden and the Democrats in part went forward without Republicans because their own $600 billion proposal did not include funds to shore up state and local governments. The GOP plan also proposed a smaller $1000 stimulus check with a tighter income eligibility ceiling.

Stimulus bill in progress

Although the Senate is on recess this week, House Democrats will keep working on hammering out the details of $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. They expect to finish the bill and vote on it as soon as next week. Then it will be sent over to the Senate, where lawmakers will have a go at the legislation with tough choices to ensure that all 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus will vote in favor.

Democrats are working fast to avoid expanded unemployment benefits and other pandemic-related programs expiring again in mid-March. To speed along the process the Democrats are using budgetary reconciliation, whereby they can sidestep a GOP filibuster which would require at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to vote with Democrats.

However that tool also means that the push to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour might not pass the Byrd bath, where the Senate parliamentarian decides if parts of the bill meet the requirement to use reconciliation.

Greg Heilman reports on what's happening with the bill, what you can expect, the obstacles in its way, and when you may expect to see the checks.

US stimulus check: live updates

Hello and welcome to our daily live blog bringing you updates on the progress being made in attempts to pass President Joe Biden's $1.9tn American Resuce Plan.

Among other measures his package includes the issuing of stimulus checks of up to $1,400 to each American.