Can a 4th and 5th stimulus check be approved according to the White House?
President Joe Biden has proposed two large-scale relief bills but has not yet committed to another round of direct payments, despite their benefits.
In recent months a growing number of Democrats in Congress have given their support for another round of stimulus checks with a series of pubic letters addressed to President Biden.
In March the American Rescue Plan provided a third direct payment worth up to $1,400 per person, but there is concern that many low-income households are in need of further support.
On 17 May seven members of the House Ways and Means Committee, the congressional body who provides oversight on issues of federal spending, became the latest to join the cause. They wrote that “a fourth and fifth check could keep an additional 12 million out of poverty,” but how has the White House responded to their request?
Psaki downplays the likelihood of more stimulus checks in the near future
In a press conference on Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked whether the Biden administration was considering introducing another round of stimulus checks. She replied, saying that “the President is certainly open to a range of ideas.”
"He’s happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward," she told reporters, but made clear that the two new relief bills provide the spending that he believes is "most effective for the short term."
The two pieces of legislation in question are the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, which contain around $4 trillion of federal spending in total. Neither of these proposals included a fourth stimulus check, so it seems that the White House is choosing to prioritise other programmes for the moment.
Study finds stimulus checks provided vital support for millions
Psaki’s non-committal response on the prospect of more direct payments came just days after a new report found that the two most recent stimulus checks had been hugely beneficial for struggling Americas.
The report, based on Census Bureau surveys and published by the New York Times, found that the direct payments had “significantly improved Americans’ ability to buy food and pay household bills and reduced anxiety and depression, with the largest benefits going to the poorest households and those with children.”
They suggest that food shortages in households with children were down by 42% between January and April, when the vast majority of the second and third stimulus checks were being distributed. The federal support has also been linked with an improvement in mental wellbeing, with instances of anxiety and depression falling by more than 20%
H. Luke Shaefer, University of Michigan professor who co-authored the study, wrote: ““We see an immediate decline among multiple lines of hardship concentrated among the most disadvantaged families.”