Third stimulus check news summary: 25 February 2021

AS English

COMMENT
Third stimulus check updates today: when it's coming, $1400 payments, IRS tax refund, stimulus calculator | Live

Stimulus relief bill live updates - Thu 25 February 2021

Headlines:

- $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in motion (when will Congress vote?)

- California Gov Newsom explains $600 Golden State stimulus check legislation (who qualifies and what else is included?)

- Over 150 CEOs sign open letter urging Congress to pass new stimulus bill

- Some Democrats oppose Biden's ARP (who and why?)

- IRS tax return could decide your third stimulus check entitlement (how does this affect you?)

- A boost in the federal minimum wage has been ruled out of the stimulus bill by the Senate parliamentarian.

- US consumer spending in January up on previous year's thanks to stimulus check boost

- Child tax credit expansion and stimulus check boost could halve child poverty in the US, study explains

- Get the latest stimulus check news in Spanish (las noticias sobre los cheques de estímulo en español)

US covid-19 cases/deaths: 28.4 million / 508,307 (live updates)

Scroll through some of the latest news stories:

2020 tax return: what's the minimum income to file taxes?

Depending on their earnings, US taxpayers may not have to submit a tax return.

Here's a breakdown of the income requirements for filing taxes:

Republicans in Congress "out of touch with the way the country is"

Democratic congressman Sean Patrick Maloney has accused congressional Republicans of being "out of touch" with the current situation in the United States ahead of a House vote on a $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus bill in which it is likely that not a single GOP representative will support the aid package.

"75% of Americans, including a lot of Republicans, support the pandemic relief bill," Maloney told MSNBC on Thursday. "So what you’re really seeing is a Republican caucus that is in the throes of some very dangerous elements, and that’s why 139 of them voted to set aside the election [result], 199 voted to keep Marjorie Taylor-Greene on her committees and just today, just a couple of them voted for equality for LGBT Americans.

"So you’ve got a Republican caucus that is badly out of touch with the way the country is."

Sanders slams "archaic and undemocratic" rules behind stimulus-bill ruling

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) has hit out at Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough's decision not to allow Democrats to include a minimum-wage increase in a $1.9tn stimulus bill as they prepare to push the package through using the ‘budgetary reconciliation’ process.

"I strongly disagree with tonight’s decision by the Senate Parliamentarian," Sanders said in a statement. "The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] made it absolutely clear that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour had a substantial budgetary impact and should be allowed under reconciliation."

He added: "Because of the archaic and undemocratic rules of the Senate we are unable to move forward to end starvation wages in this country and raise the income fo 32 million struggling Americans."

Graham: Minimum-wage ruling will "reinforce the traditions of the Senate"

Senator Lindsey Graham, the leading Republican on the Senate’s Budget Committee, has welcomed the decision not to allow Democrats to include a minimum-wage increase in a $1.9tn stimulus bill.

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that the measure cannot be passed under the 'budgetary reconcilation' process being used by Democrats to push the package through without GOP backing.

"Very pleased the Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that a minimum wage increase is an inappropriate policy change in reconciliation," Graham tweeted on Thursday.

"This decision reinforces reconciliation cannot be used as a vehicle to pass major legislative change - by either party - on a simple majority vote. This decision will, over time, reinforce the traditions of the Senate."

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has confirmed that the provision to up the national minimum wage to $15 an hour will remain in the proposed stimulus bill when it is voted on in the lower chamber on Friday.

It will then be stripped out of the legislation by the Senate.

Texas judge rules CDC's evictions moratorium unconstitutional

A federal judge in Texas on Thursday ruled unconstitutional a national moratorium the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instituted for most residential evictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Siding with a group of landlords and property owners challenging the evictions freeze, US District Judge J. Campbell Barker in Tyler, Texas, ruled the CDC exceeded its authority under the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Barker said he expected the CDC to abide by his ruling and cease enforcement of the CDC's moratorium order, imposed in September under the Trump administration and extended on 21 January, the day after President Joe Biden took office, to run at least another two months.

There was no immediate word from the CDC as to whether it intended to continue to enforce the moratorium should the case be appealed.

Several other federal courts elsewhere across the US have rejected similar challenges seeking to block the moratorium, which temporarily has halted eviction proceedings for millions of tenants across the country.

The judge's ruling noted the lawsuit in Texas does not call into question numerous eviction freezes or rent-assistance programs instituted at the state and local level.

The CDC order applies to individual renters who did not expect to earn more than $99,000 last year or $198,000 for joint tax return filers. It also applies to tenants who did not report income in 2019 or received a federal economic stimulus check in 2020.

(Reuters)

When push comes to shove, Republicans are going to join us - Stevens

Democratic congresswoman Haley Stevens says she doesn’t expect the $1.9tn coronavirus stimulus bill to get no support from Republicans when the package is voted on in the House of Representatives on Friday.

"The time to act is now and I believe that colleagues on the other side of the aisle, when push comes to shove, are going to join us, and I’m going to tell you why: this is triage," Stevens told CNBC.

"We just recognized 500,000 lives lost to this pandemic, we all know we need the funding for the vaccines, the testing. We're long overdue with some of the economic provisions of this bill, the $1,400 stimulus check, the monies needed to reopen our schools fully and safely - we're talking personnel dollars here.

"And just take it from the economists and those who are supporting this bill outside the chamber. We've got the US Chamber of Commerce supporting this bill, we’ve got the US Conference of Mayors, we've got executives who come from both parties who are saying: We need this American Rescue Plan.

"Stabilize the health of this country, stabilize the economy."

Minimum-wage ruling "disappointing" - Pelosi

Confirming that a provision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will remain in the stimulus bill voted on by the lower chamber on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has described Thursday’s ruling that the measure does not comply with Senate budgetary rules as "disappointing".

Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled that a minimum-wage increase cannot be passed by in the upper house under 'budgetary reconciliation', the process Democratic lawmakers are using to push a $1.9tn relief package through Congress without Republican support (see post below).

"The ruling from the Senate parliamentarian is disappointing, because raising the minimum wage would give 27 million Americans a well-deserved raise and pull nearly one million Americans out of poverty in the middle of a once-in-a-century devastating pandemic and economic crisis," Pelosi said in a statement.

"House Democrats believe that the minimum wage hike is necessary.  Therefore, this provision will remain in the American Rescue Plan on the Floor tomorrow.  Democrats in the House are determined to pursue every possible path in the Fight For 15.

"Tomorrow, when we pass the American Rescue Plan, the American people will know that Help Is On The Way."

Trump voters backing stimulus plan

Interesting article from Lisa Lerer setting out how the Republican top brass are trying to work out how to deal with their approach to the recovery package and the fact that a lot of their supporters are pretty keen on a lot of the measures. In fact nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say it's important for the bill to include the $1,400 stimulus checks. The fact Trump himself was into federal spending makes it harder to play up deficit concerns too. Tough decisions to be made for the GOP.

Biden sad

Biden disappointed at minimum wage proposal being stripped from American Rescue Plan

White House statement on the news the $15 minimum wage is being taken out of the covid relief bill (see below).

Senate parliamentarian strips $15 minimum wage from Covid relief bill

Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian who decides on the interpretation of the rules of the Senate and parliamentary procedure, has ruled that the provisions for an increase in the minimum wage cannot be included in the covid relief bill.

Top Democrats as well as the White House said they were disappointed by the ruling, but the reality is that this may make it easier to get the bill through, and stimulus checks into the hands of Americans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed the provision will remain in the House bill, which the chamber is voting on on Friday. The bill will therefore pass in its current form, the Senate will take the minimum wage provision out and then the House will pass the modified bill.

The other option was to pass the bill in the House with the minimum wage proposals taken out, but that could take several weeks with the bill going back to committees and then through the markup process again.

Why the minimum wage can’t be included along with the stimulus checks

The Democrats have their hands tied by parliamentary procedure because they have to avoid the filibuster in the Senate - meaning they have to use budget reconciliation to get measures through on a simple majority, but only certain items can be done under budget reconciliation - the proposal must change government spending or revenue or change the federal deficit - MacDonough ruled the minimum wage boost wouldn’t meet those requirements.

Curious how much you will get in third stimulus check?

Look no further. The wheels are in motion for Democrats to pass a $1.9tn covid relief bill without the support of the GOP, here's a look at what the scope may be, with a stimulus check calculator.

Read the full story:

Is the Californian coronavirus strain really more contagious and deadly?

"The devil is already here," according to reports the new strain is spreading quickly and may cause more fatalities. What’s happening in California?

Read the full story:

Bernie Sanders, champion of stimulus checks, more popular then president

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the most outspoken stimulus proponents in Congress, has a higher net favourability rating than both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, according to a new poll.

A poll released Tuesday by The Economist/YouGov found that while 39 percent of respondents said they had either a "somewhat" or "very" unfavourable view of Sanders, 49 percent said they had a very or somewhat favorable view, giving him a net favourability rating of 10 points.

Biden had a net favourability rating of 8 points. Net favourability for Harris was 5 points.

Tax saving of $3,100 in new stimulus bill

New analysis shows that the Democrats’ covid-19 relief bill would reduce household federal tax bills by an average of $3,100 each this year.

Read the full story:

Stimulus on the way and serious illness from covid in decline...

...is the end in sight? Bloomberg today reports that hospital admissions due to coronavirus have declined by 72%, meanwhile the House is due to vote on a new stimulus bill that could bring aid to millions of Americans.

What did Americans do with the last stimulus checks?

What did Americans do with the last stimulus checks?

According to ABC News, Census Bureau data showed households with incomes between $75,00 and $99,999 were more likely to use their first stimulus payments to pay off debt or add it to savings, compared to households overall.

Researchers based out of Harvard University estimated that households earning above $78,000 only spent $45 of the recent $600 checks one month after they received them.

Some economists argue that defeats the purpose of the checks to stimulate the economy, saying the money should be more targeted toward those in need.

Will the third stimulus check be taxed?

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

Read the full story:

WATCH: Biden commemorated halfway point with vaccine goal

President Joe Biden is speaking live on the day that his administration has achieved 50 million vaccines, his White House laid out the goal to reach 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of his administration when Biden took office in January.

California $600 stimulus check: more support for small businesses announced

Rolled into the record-breaking stimulus bill in the Golden State signed by lawmakers this week, California state is also planning to waive fees owed to the state by small businesses.

Hundreds of thousands of small businesses from restaurants to nail salons will not have to pay licensing fees until 2023, under California’s $7.6 billion stimulus measure signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday.

Many of their professional employees also can skip state licensing fees.

About 59,000 restaurants and bars won’t have to pay annual fees to renew their Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses, which can range from $455 to $1,235.

Some 53,000 beauty establishments such as barber shops will have their renewal fees waived, saving $40 every two years for the owners and of $50 every two years for the employees.

The fee waivers will cost the state about $70 million.

WATCH: 76% of Americans support Democrats' new stimulus bill

President Joe Biden's $1.9tn relief bill is set for a House vote on Friday, and new polling shows it has 76 percent support with the American public, with 60 percent of Republicans supporting the stimulus. 

What will you do with your third stimulus check?

Many will be using it to pay debts, bills or for essentials like food. But according to a report by Bloomberg, 37% of Americans are planning to invest the next check straight into the stock market, a move that would see a $170 billion boost in Wall Street.

How to claim missing stimulus payout on your tax return 2020

Millions of people never received their stimulus check, or part of it.

If you were one of them, don’t despair. When you file your tax return you can claim yours.

Find out how:

Over a third of Americans are planning to invest their stimulus checks

A recent survey has suggested that 37% of Americans is considering using the stimulus check money to invest in stocks, which could see around $170 billion flow into the markets. Earlier this year the sensation gains made by 'meme stocks' such as GameStop and Blockbuster were partly credited to the second round of stimulus checks which saw close to 150 million Americans receive $600. 

Deutsche Bank AG strategist have compiled a report based on this study, which suggests that the stock market is optimistic about the impact of the stimulus check investments. 

Retail sentiment remains positive across the board, regardless of age, income or when the investor began trading,” they wrote. “Retail investors say they expect to maintain or add to their stock holdings even as the economy re-opens.”

New stimulus bill will be put to a vote on Friday

On Friday the House of Representatives will vote on the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1.9 trillion proposal that includes the third round of stimulus checks. Biden had promised to pass the a round of direct payments as soon as he entered office but the lack of bipartisan support for his proposal and the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump disrupted the plan.

The House is expected to vote in favour of the bill, but the Senate must do the same before the $1,400 stimulus checks can be signed into law. A series of House Committees voted to approve the American Rescue Plan, so what else needs to happen before the new stimulus checks can be sent out?

Read more:

New stimulus bill will provide a boost for small and minority-owned businesses

On Friday the House of Representatives will vote on the new covid-19 relief bill put forward by Presdent Biden, which he hopes will help those worst hit by the pandemic. Rep. Judy Chu of the House budget Committee has outlined the good that she believes the stimulus bill can do for small businesses with greater economic relief for small firms. 

Aside from the direct support that goes to the businesses, a recent study suggests that other aspects of the package will have a significant impact on the local economy. The $1,400 stimulus checks included in the proposal will boost consumer spending and provide a cash injection as businesses are starting to open up again. The last round of stimulus checks was responsible for a 20% rise in consumer spending, compared to the same period in 2020. 

Number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits reaches 19 million

The latest unemployment figures are in and they make very bleak reading as we near the one-year mark in the nation's battle against covid-19. The total number of people receiving a check from the government to cover lost income currently sits at 19 million, with around 1.2 million Americans applying for some form of unemployment benefits for the first time in the last week. 

These staggering figures put into context the desire for Congress to pass Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which includes a considerable extension to the federal additional unemployment benefits that are due to expire on 14 March. Also included in the American Rescue Plan is a boost for the child tax credit provision and a third stimulus check worth $1,400. 

 

Calls for $15 minimum wage to be included in stimulus bill

Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky has called for the proposed $15 minimum wage increase to be included in the final version of the American Rescue Plan, after concern that it may be missed out. Both Houses of Congress are still to vote on the stimulus bill, meaning that an amendment could see it removed. 

There is also the possibility that the Senate Parliamentarian could rule to exclude the minimum wage rise on the basis that it does not fall under the unbrella of budgetary measures that can be passed using reconciliation. 

There is certainly considerable support amongst Democratic lawmakers to include the measure, which is hoped to provide a more long-term boost for low income earners. The $1,400 stimulus check payments will help in the short term but there is an appetite to make a real change. 

IRS tax return backlog could hurt stimulus check effort

ProRepublica report that the IRS is struggling to clear a huge backlog of tax returns from last year's filings, which has prevented millions from receiving their stimulus checks. Eligibility for the direct support is based on tax return information and if the filing has not been processed the stimulus checks cannot be sent. 

This may strengthen the calls for the IRS to push back the tax return deadline, which currently sits at 15 April 2021. In the report ProRepublica claim that the tax authority is still processing 4.6 million cases that involve amended returns and other special requests, while 78 of the IRS’ 358 taxpayer assistance centers are currently closed, making it difficult for filers to get the support they need. 

Is the new stimulus check more generous than previous payments?

As Congress prepares to vote on Biden's American Rescue Plan, we take a look at how one of the key features compares to previous stimulus bills passed by the Trump administration. Millions of Americans are waiting for the $1,400 stimulus checks, but what are the simularities and differencies between them and previous direct payments?

We compare how much they are worth, who will be eligible, and how the new stimulus checks will be distributed. 

Read more:

Widespread support for Biden's stimulus bill

In Congress, the President has struggled to find any Republicans who will back his American Rescue Plan, with GOP lawmakers unwilling to support the $1.9 trillion of federal spending that the bill requires. However across the country the picture is very different, with a whopping 76% of the population calling for Congress to pass the legislation.

Part of the recent for this popularity may be the proposed third stimulus check that is contained within the bill, offering up to $1,400 as a direct payment to eligible Americans. The first large-scale bill provided checks worth up to $1,200, but that was signed last March and there has been little in the way of direct payments since then. 

An emergency bill signed in December provided a $600 stimulus check, but there is a clear need for another burst of spending to assist Americans who are struggling to put food on the table. Recent estimate put the number of people in the US experiencing some form of food poverty at a staggering 27 million. 

IRS urges Americans to take advantage of tax return e-filing

Tax season 2021 will be a particularly busy time for the IRS as they will also have to administrate and distribute the third round of stimulus checks that is expected to be agreed in the coming weeks. Last year they pushed back the tax return deadline to allow themselves to focus on sending the direct payments, but it looks like that will not be the case this year. 

However, to help speed up the process they have asked people to use their e-file system wherever possible, which will allow them to process tax returns more quickly. The IRS has experienced much higher levels of early filing this year with millions looking to get their tax affairs in order before the stimulus checks are signed into law. 

The IRS have reported that they are currently receiving up to 335 tax refund requests per minute. 

Biden's Chief of Staff on the stimulus bill

Ron Klain, President Biden's White House Chief of Staff, has shared a news article from USA TODAY which recounts numerous Republican mayors and local officials who want Congress to pass the American Rescue Plan. Stimulus spending has been a controversial issue but even Trump loyalists have admitted that the payments are vital support for struggling cities. 

Bryan Barnett, the Republican mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, said critics of the stimulus bill should: "Talk to some of the Republican mayors." 

He added: "This isn't because of some gross mismanagement or some bad contracts that were signed or historic deficits. This is about addressing the needs of a global pandemic."

How to get your stimulus check entitlement as an IRS tax refund

It is estimated that millions of Americans have missed out on previous stimulus check payments through no fault of their own, due to distribution issues and administrative oversights. The IRS has finished sending both the $1,200 and $600 stimulus check payments out, but it is not too late to get the money. 

If you have been incorrectly excluded from the direct payments, you can claim the money back in the form of a Recovery Rebate Credit. This allows you to request any missing support as a tax refund on you 2021 IRS filing, which could arrive within weeks. 

Read more:

IRS experiencing record number of early tax returns

The IRS has been receiving tax returns at a rate of 335 filings per second as Americans look to get their tax affairs in order as swiftly as possible. It has been speculated that much of the reason for this rush could be the upcoming round of stimulus checks, for two reasons:

1. Eligibility for the third stimulus check will be based on the filer's most recent tax returns. Anyone who has lost income or become unemployed since they last filed taxes may therefore be eligible for a larger direct payment than they otherwise would. 

2. This year's filing gives people the chance to claim previous stimulus checks that they have missed in the form of an IRS tax refund, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit. 

For more information, check out Tax return 2020: does it affect third stimulus check?

Black Caucus meets with VP Harris to discuss stimulus bill

On Wednesday evening members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the American Rescue Plan, which the White House hopes will be passed by the House of Representatives on Friday. Throughout the pandemic much of the damage has been felt the hardest by individuals, families and businesses from minority backgrounds. 

Upon announcing his stimulus bill in January, he said of his proposal for businesses: “Our priority will be Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American owned small businesses, women-owned businesses, and finally having equal access to resources needed to reopen and rebuild.”

It is hoped that the $1,400 stimulus checks will provide the immediate assistance required to support families who have lost income during the pandemic. As Rep. Williams points out, the black community has been disproportionately affected by covid-19. 

Will stimulus checks affect the tax return deadline?

The American Institute of CPAs has written to the IRS asking for greater clarity on the tax return deadline for 2021. In public the IRS say they have no plans to alter the 15 April deadline, but have reportedly been considering pushing the deadline back if another round of stimulus checks is passed by Congress. 

Not only do the IRS administrate the tax returns process, but they are also in charge of the distribution of stimulus checks. The first round of direct payments, which began in March 2020, saw them push back the tax return deadline to allow the agency to get the checks distributed as a priority. 

In the open letter, the AICPA called for: "greater certainty for taxpayers and tax practitioners and for underpayment and late-payment penalty relief, both of which will provide greater assistance to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Stimulus checks could provide much-needed boost for US economy

As the House prepares to vote on President Biden's American Rescue Plan, there is hope that the $1,400 included within could help the US economic recovery. The direct payments will go to Americans classed as low- or middle-income earners, who are more likely to spend the money than save it. 

Studies from the previous round of stimulus checks showed that 88% of the money distributed was spent almost immediately, signalling how effective these payments can be if targeted correctly. This time around, market analysts expect the boost for retail could translate to significant gains in the stock market. 

Retail sentiment remains positive across the board, regardless of age, income or when the investor began trading,” wrote the Deutsche Bank strategists. “Retail investors say they expect to maintain or add to their stock holdings even as the economy re-open

The US stimulus relief debate

From politicians to economists, journalists to small business owners, and everyday famiies across the country, the debate is taking place over whether the latest $1.9 trillion economic rescue package proposed by President Joe Biden is the right course of action.

With an inclusion for a planned increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, even party lines are being crossed in the discussion.

Policymakers and economists disagree not only about the appropriate size and scope of the measures, but also on the broader question of whether fiscal policy can and should return to center stage.

Critics say my plan is too big, that it cost $1.9 trillion; that’s too much...

Let me ask them, what would they have me cut?

Joe Biden, US President

The price tag in the end is just so inordinately high and has too many extraneous things in it to gain any real support in the Republican Party.

Shelley Moore Capito, Republican Senator, West Virginia

I think even though several Democrats have some concerns, that we can still find a basis for agreement

Dick Durbin, No. 2 Senate Democrat

Our country does not need another massive fire hose of

borrowed money.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader
JP

Stimulus talk from Powell sees world shares rise

In a second day of testimony in Washington, US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed's promise to get the US economy back to full employment and to not worry about inflation unless prices rose in a persistent and troubling way.

"Powell said it will take three years for them to achieve its inflation target, essentially reaffirming the Fed will not raise interest rates until 2023," said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"A huge amount of cash investors have to work is flowing into the stock market, and that is more than offsetting any negative aspects of higher bond yields."

The prospects of a prolonged period of low interest rates came as investors expect a huge US fiscal stimulus and a progress in covid-19 vaccinations to shore up the economy, especially the sectors hit the hardest by the pandemic.

Stimulus Sanders: polling favorably

Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the most outspoken stimulus proponents in Congress, has a higher net favorability rating than both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, according to a new poll.

A poll released Tuesday by The Economist/YouGov found that while 39 percent of respondents said they had either a "somewhat" or "very" unfavorable view of Sanders, 49 percent said they had a very or somewhat favorable view, giving him a net favorability rating of 10 points.

Biden had a net favorability rating of 8 points due to 50 percent of respondents having a favorable view and another 42 percent having an unfavorable view of the president. Net favorability for Harris was 5 points, with 48 percent viewing her favorably and 43 percent viewing her unfavorably.

Stimulus check paid for by US billionaires

Former Secretary of Labor, and now Berkeley professor, Robert Reich, has suggested that any Republican concerns over the US building more debt in order to give a small helping hand to poorer citizens could be assuaged by using the profits made by the very richest to pay for it.

'The $1.3 trillion wealth gain by America's 660 billionaires since the pandemic began could pay for a stimulus check of $3,900 for every one of the 331 million people in the US. And the billionaires would be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Tax the billionaires.'

When is a third stimulus check likely to arrive?

The Democrats hope that by utilising reconciliation they will be able to bypass a lot of the uncertainty and potential delay in Congress. They have set a target of 14 March to have the bill signed into law, but assuming that all members follow the party line (all Democrats vote in favour of the bill) it could be passed before then.

The focus will then switch to the distribution effort, which comes at a particularly busy time for the IRS. Not only are they in charge of administering and sending all stimulus check payments, but they also oversee the tax return process which began on 12 February.

Will Gittens reports on the who, when and how:

Stimulus funds: Biden’s nomination under pressure

Neera Tanden’s nomination to head the Office of Management and Budget was beleaguered from the beginning with Republicans voicing opposition from the get-go.

As head of the OMB she would oversee the administration’s rollout of stimulus funds and future investments. Currently, one Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, has expressed opposition to her confirmation forcing the White House to hope that Senator Lisa Murkowski will save the nomination. 

Her confirmation is in peril for confrontational tweets she has posted in the past. However in Dana Milbank’s opinion she was merely telling the truth. As well, he feels the Senators voicing opposition are being hypocritical since they confirmed other appointments in the past with more divisive comments.

Supply chains fix for President Biden

Although his stimulus relief package is taking much of the focus, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday meant to address a global chip shortage impacting industries ranging from medical supplies to electric vehicles. The action follows calls from bipartisan members of Congress and industry leaders warning about the potential consequences of the shortage. 

Biden met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers prior to signing the order to discuss the shortage. He said it was “very productive,” adding “it’s like the old days, people actually were on the same page.” 

The order includes a 100-day review of key products including semiconductors and advanced batteries used in electric vehicles. That will be followed by a broader, long-term review of six sectors of the economy. The long-term review will allow for policy recommendations to strengthen supply chains, with the goal of quickly implementing the suggestions.

Stimulus via the lottery

With $90 million up for grabs, the current Powerball jackpot has plenty of people crossing their fingers, kissing their lucky rabbit foot, and even getting down on their knees to pray.

Obviously the first thing you need to do is buy a ticket as, despite the odds of a jackpot win being 1 in 292,201,338, they are considerably worse than that without a ticket.

The good news to remember is that the chances of you getting a stimulus check are looking much, much more likely.

Rare problem hits Fed's payment systems

When you're (almost certainly) about to roll out a further round of stimulus payments, this is not what you want.

The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that an unspecified error disrupted all of its financial-services systems in an extraordinary event that took down key payment systems used by banks, businesses and government agencies for more than three hours. Officials couldn't remember a similar episode affecting its systems.  

The Fed is known primarily for setting interest rates but it performs a less-public role of acting as a bank for the nation's banks and for the US government. It handles tasks including collecting checks, electronically transferring funds, and selling and redeeming Treasury bills.  

"While root cause is currently being evaluated, there is no indication that the issue is the result of a cyberattack," a Treasury Department official said in a statement.

Calculating your third stimulus check

Do you know how much you may be entitled to with this third payment?

Well, now that the wheels are in motion for Democrats to pass a $1.9tn covid relief bill without the support of the GOP, here's a look at what the scope may be.

Masking American amid stimulus relief push

First the coronavirus rescue plan with direct stimulus checks, now masks to tackle covid-19 inequality. The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it would distribute more than 25 million masks to over 1,300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens in an effort to reach underserved communities and as part of the president's promise to make the pandemic response more equitable. 

Between March and May, the administration will send well-fitted cloth masks, available in child and adult sizes, that can be washed for reuse, White House covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced in a news briefing.

Stimulus help until vaccine rollout complete

As the stimulus bill passes through Congress, eyes continue to track devlopments regarding the vaccine rollout... seen as our ultimate solution to the pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe covid-19, according to an analysis released Wednesday by US regulators that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic.

The long-anticipated shot could offer the nation a third vaccine option and help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two. Food and Drug Administration scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe covid-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot is safe.

Full story:

California stimulus bill broken down

Gov. Gavin Newsom breaks down the key stimulus bill benefits as he delivers on a promise of $600 stimulus checks for Golden State residents. Also included in the bill:

- $2 billion in grants to restaurants, hair salons & more

- $24 million in aid to agricultural workers

- $35 million for food banks and diapers

- $100 million in financial aid for community college students

Listen to the details straight from the horse's mouth:

New York unemployment benefits fraud

Since the beginning of the pandemic, New York State has paid more than $65 billion in unemployment benefits to over four million New Yorkers.

Compared to the amount paid out in all of 2019 which was $2.1 billion, the pandemic has forced payouts of over 30 times the previous year.

Among those millions of claims, New York State Department of Labor has identified over 425,000 fraudulent claims, continues PSA campaign warning New Yorkers to protect themselves against fraud.

Full story:

Stimulus relief bill: big support from small business

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shares letter by small business leaders urging Congress to pass the Democrats' coronavirus stimulus relief bill as soon as possible.

The bill is set to include $15 billion in grants to more than 1 million of the hardest-hit small businesses to get them back on their feet.

It also leverages $35 billion for small businesses financing programs, which can generate as much as $175 billion in venture capital and low-interest loans to provide critical access to capital for businesses and entrepreneurs in need.

US stimulus relief bill: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live blog for Thursday 25 February where we'll cover stimulus checks, news on the California stimulus and any other state developments, as well as everything to do with IRS tax filing season, including refunds, and much more.

We'll be here all day bringing you the latest updates as they unfold in the US. Who's eligible for what, when to expect checks and help with how to file your tax returns.

.