CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Fourth stimulus check: what has Biden said and proposed?

Congressional Democrats are calling on President Biden to back additional direct payments. Where does the White House stand on recurring payments?

Fourth Stimulus check: what has Biden said and proposed?
Oliver Contreras / Pool via CNP GTRES

The effects of the $1,400 stimulus checks are beginning to be felt in the US economy as vaccination rates climb giving the American public more security to venture out of their homes. However, the road ahead for many struggling households is still long according to lawmakers urging the White House to continue direct stimulus payments until the pandemic emergency is over.

President Joe Biden meanwhile is rolling out the second part of his three-part Build Back Better plan. In his second legislative push he wants to invest over $2 trillion in infrastructure for the future. His Democratic colleagues in Congress are urging him to include recurring stimulus payments in his plan “to support Americans who are still struggling during the pandemic.”

What has Biden said about a fourth stimulus check?

President Biden came to office with an ambitious agenda. In his first major piece of legislation the $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief bill he supported sending out additional stimulus checks, this time for $1,400, to fulfill a promise made campaigning for the two Democratic candidates in the Georgia senatorial run-off races. This amount topped up the $600 payments, authorized in the December covid-19 relief bill, for a total of $2,000.

Since then, President Biden has been schtum on any additional payments, focusing instead on pushing forward his vision to complete his Build Back Better plan. In the coming weeks he is expected to present the details of the third portion of the plan, the American Families Plan. This is his “plan to restore the middle class and help families make ends meet.”

What are the prospects of more stimulus checks?

The idea of recurring stimulus checks “It’s unlikely at this time,” in the words of Ed Mills, a Washington policy analyst at Raymond James, speaking to CNBC. Although over 75 congressional Democrats support the proposal it is lacking enough support from the center of the party. It would also encounter strong headwinds from Republicans in Washington.

Biden has professed that he wants to work with GOP lawmakers to pass his infrastructure bill which will be an uphill battle with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters earlier this month it “is not going to get support from our side.” The Democrats were only able to pass the American Rescue Plan with zero GOP votes by using a parliamentarian process called budget reconciliation.

Democrats have the opportunity to pass more bills without a GOP filibuster

Thanks to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian recently, the Democrats will be able to use this mechanism more times this year, but only for legislation dealing with the budget. However, they would need all 50 Senators from their side of the aisle, in an evenly split Senate, to be onboard. One Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin from West Virginia, expressed misgivings about abusing the procedure in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post.

Congressional Democrats will be able to draw up the details of President Biden’s infrastructure plan as the push it through Congress. Whether they will include recurring stimulus checks in the end is purely speculative for the moment. President Biden’s final support for them will depend on if it will be feasible to sway the more moderate members of the Democratic party to support them. Or he may sacrifice recurring stimulus to assure the passing of his longer-term solutions for the nation. He wants Congress to have the legislation ready by summer.