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Fourth stimulus check | News summary 18 November

Latest updates on President Biden's Build Back Better bill, plus news on fresh stimulus check payments, the expanded Child Tax Credit and Social Security.

US stimulus checks: live updates


- Democrats will hold House vote on Build Back Better this evening

- The premium for Medicare Part B will increase nearly 15 percent in 2022, cutting the size of many social security checks

- Maine begins distributing a $285 stimulus checks

- President Bidensigned Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill into law on Monday. His second stop to promote it was Michigan on Wednesday.

- Congress could remove Social Security Numberrequirement for Child Tax Credit

- Distribution for the fifth Child Tax Credit payment started on Monday: Find out more

- Low-earning American households are missing out on the Child Tax Credit

- Calls continue for Congress to pass a fourth stimulus check before December

Useful information & Links

Child Tax Credit

- Deadline passed to enroll in advance Child Tax Credit payment scheme. Households not signed up will need to wait to claim credit on 2021 tax returns

- Final 2021 Child Tax Credit payment coming 15 December

Stimulus checks

- Maine offers $285 surprise stimulus check to half a million residents.

- Could a fourth stimulus check be approved in November 2021?

- Which states are sending out their own payments?

- 750,000 Californians to receive Golden State Stimulus checks

Social Security

- What will the monthly amount for Social Security disability be?

- At what age is Social Securityno longer taxed in the US?

Latest articles:

Democrats claim the Build Back Better bill will reduce the deficit

The financial rammifications of the Build Back Better proposals have been the main sticking point for the small number of moderate Democrats who are yet to commit their support to the bill. Senator Joe Manchin is known to be waiting for more financial information before agreeing to vote for the package, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has claimed that the cost of the $1.75 trillion bill is offset by the economic boost that the policies will provide. 

Democrats hit back on Build Back Better response

The Democrats now have the votes required in the House of Representatives to pass the Build Back Better bill, but Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is engaging in a prolonged spell of speaking to delay and register his opposition to the bill. However in response to his ongoing speech, the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly issuing up-to-the-minute replies to some of McCarthy's claims. 

House Democrats make a last push for Build Back Better support

Democrats confident of Build Back Better passage

Manu Raju, Chief Congressional Correspondent for CNN, outlines the strength of feeling amongst some Congressional Democrats to get the remainder of President Biden's legislative agenda passed through the House today. 

What is in the Build Back Better plan?

The Build Back Better plan encompasses much of the more ambitious elements of President Biden's legislative agenda and the expansion for Medicare provisions are key among those policies. The House is set to vote on the package today, which will set the ball rolling for the long-awaited Senate vote. 

Build Back Better could follow infrastructure bill passage

From the outset, President Biden had hoped to pass the remainder of his ambitious legislative agenda in two bills: a vast infrastructure package and the Build Back Better bill. Today the House intends to vote on the latter after Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law on Monday. 

Here, we take a look at what's in the infrastructure bill?

“It is my hope that we will complete this [Build Back Better} legislation today."

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer , House Majority Leader

“Getting to this point certainly has not been fast or has it been easy."

"We have examined the issues, have had thoughtful, spirited debate in the committee, and we have refined our proposals.”

Rep. Richard E. Neal, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee

When is the Congress vote on Build Back Better bill?

Confirmation that the Build Back Better bill will be voted on in the House of Representatives tonight, signalling a push from the Democratic leadership in the Congress to get the package signed into law before Christmas. The long-term package is designed to offer economic stimulus to areas of society that have been left behind in recent decades and bring about a green revolution in the United States. 

Build Back Better will be put to a vote tonight

After months of negotiations in Congress it appears that the Democrats are finally willing to proceed with a floor vote on the remainder of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda. The latest version of the package is thought to cost around $1.75 trillion and has garnered almost universal support from Democrats, aside from the key votes of moderate Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. President Biden will hope that the party's Congressional leadership has done the maths correctly to avoid an embarrassing defeat. 

Will Medicare be included in the Build Back Better bill?

An expansion of coverage for Medicare recipients was one of the Progressive Caucus' top priorities for the Build Back Better package, but it appears like that stance may be softening. Sen. Bernie Sanders had previously insisted that the provision must be included but has now declined to say, suggesting that he may be looking to ensure that something is passed and not risk losing the whole agenda. 

Are Child Tax Credit payment boosting parents' work?

The broad range of programmes included in the Build Back Better plan are designed to overhaul the structure of American life and reduce inequality in society. A key provision is a one-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit, which proponents hope will allow more parents to return to the workplace because it reduces the burden of finding childcare. One study, shared here, shows that the first five months of the Child Tax Credit has already caused an uptake in parents' ability to return to work. 

I rise in support of the Build Back Better Act, which will make historic investments across the country. We’re in the middle of a housing crisis, and I’ve worked hard for funding to assist with this crisis that we have in housing.

Rep Maxine Waters, Chairwoman

With more than $151 billion for housing in this bill, Democrats are helping families achieve housing stability and housing affordability.

Rep Maxine Waters , Chairwoman

The Build Back Better Act provides the largest investment in America’s housing infrastructure in history. This investment is critical to creating a fair and equitable nation where everyone can thrive.

Rep Maxine Waters, Chairwoman

Infrastructure bill sucks...but in a good way!

In Iceland, a new plant that recently started sucking CO2 out of the air and permanently storing it underground is operating only at a small scale, write Adele Peters for the Fast Company. It’s one example of the nascent “direct air capture” industry, and an example of how dramatically the industry will need to grow to be able to play a meaningful role in fighting climate change.

But billions of dollars of new funding in the U.S.’s newly-signed infrastructure law will help push the technology forward much faster.

“I think this bill represents an inflection point or a step change in the field,” says Noah Deich, president of Carbon180, a nonprofit focused on carbon removal. The funding includes $3.5 billion to build four new direct air capture hubs, facilities or groups of facilities that can each capture and store at least a millions tons of CO2 a year. (It is, by far, the largest federal investment in this technology ever, and perhaps the largest globally.)

Everyone's talking infrastructure

North Dakota senator Kevin Cramer has been talking about the infrastructure bill and how the energy sector will play a new role in the state's economic growth.

GAIN, Grow America’s Infrastructure Now, is a coalition focused on promoting infrastructure investments that ensure a stronger, more secure, and prosperous country.

Schumer makes promise

Majority leader and New York Senator Chuck Schumer knows that he will have to take up the mantle if the vote clears the House. And he promised to get it over the line.

Creating jobs, lowering costs, fighting inflation, keeping more money in people’s pockets - these are things Americans want and what Americans need and it’s what Build Back Better does,” he said in the Senate.

“We are going to keep working on this important legislation until we get it done.”

The cost of Reconcilation

The entire estimate of what the Democrats' reconciliation package will cost is expected to be released very soon, confirmed the CBO.

As Joan Greve points out, this could see the House then move to pass the bill shortly after.

We’re awaiting one more committee and a piece of another committee from the Senate for the scrub. They expect by this afternoon to have the information we need from the Ways and Means Committee... then we will vote on the rule and then on the bill. Those votes hopefully will take place later this afternoon.

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker

House could vote on Build Back better bill this afternoon

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said a vote on the Democrats’ social spending and climate package “hopefully will take place this afternoon.”

Pelosi, during her weekly press conference at the Capitol, said the House could vote on a new rule then final passage for the Build Back Better Act this afternoon if the Senate and the Congressional Budget Office release their assessments of the bill, which she said she hopes to have before 5pm today.

What is the maximum 401k contribution for 2022 according to the IRS?

Social Security

What is the maximum 401k contribution for 2022 according to the IRS?

The 401(k) plan is a retirement savings plan offered by many American employers that has tax advantages to the saver. It is named after a section of the US Internal Revenue Code, and it is facing changes in 2022.

This is tied up into inflation and the COLA increase for 2022. The Consumer Price Index increased 0.9 percent in October after rising 0.4 percent in September, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Over the last 12 months, the index increased 6.2 percent before seasonal adjustment, marking the highest rate of inflation in the country since 1990. This in turn has led to the Social Security Administration announcing a 5.9 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase for 2022.

These changes mean workers will be allowed to submit more money into their retirement plans, as the money they have saved may not sufficient with high inflation levels.

Read more here

John Deere strike proves successful

After a month of strike action, John Deere workers have won their wage increase and greater protections in their workplace.

During the pandemic, workers have been subjected to grueling 10 to 12-hour working days for as much as 6 days a week. While workers have seen wages stagnate and conditions worsen, bosses have seen record profits, with $4.7 billion of profit from the first three quarters of this year alone. Nearly $2.5 billion has been paid out to stockholders and dividends while the owner has seen his personal wealth increase by 160% since February 2020.

On Wednesday, members ratified a new six-year agreement that includes 10 percent increases in wages this year, and a total increase of 20 percent over the life of the contract, the United Auto Workers said. The contract also includes more retirement options and makes no changes to healthcare and Social Security contributions.

How does the infrastructure bill affect cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?


How does the infrastructure bill affect cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?

Finally getting over the line, the bipartisan infrastructure bill was signed by President Biden this week. As with most bills relating to infrastructure, it mainly focuses on the traditional sort: roads, bridges, and the like. Adapting for the 21st century, it also includes provisions for superfast broadband connections in an attempt to level-up connection in the US.

But there are also some other further reaching stipulations. While certainly not traditionally infrastructure, cryptocurrency has been hit in the crossfire as the US government seeks to regulate one of the last unregulated markets. The plans hope to bring in tens of billions of dollars more in tax revenue, and predictably 'crypto bros' are not best pleased.

Read more here

Republican grilled for lauding infrastructure bill - that he voted against

Rep. Gary Palmer, a Republican from Alabama, was embarrassed on social media after he touted funding for the Birmingham Northern Beltline that he worked to include in the federal infrastructure package but declined to mention that he voted against the legislation.

“This is the opportunity we have been working for as a region and a state. Now is the time for us to take advantage of it and complete the work by finishing the Northern Beltline and building a better future for the Birmingham metro area and central Alabama," he said in his statement.

Those critics included state Rep. Chris England, who also serves as chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party and blasted Palmer for “hypocrisy.”

Debates for Build Back Better agenda to start today

The House has been given the green light to begin debating the second part of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.

The first part, the infrastructure bill, was passed and signed by the president on Monday morning. It is likely to be some time before part two is fully negotiated, however.

$285 surprise stimulus check in november: who is getting extra money?

Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

$285 surprise stimulus check in november: who is getting extra money?

While the chances of a fourth stimulus in all US states is next to none, there has been an announcement of extra support for residents in the New England state of Maine.

524,754 people could get a surprise check in the mail sometime after November 15 as the Maine State Tax Accessor will be issuing $285 checks to taxpayers. People with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $150,000 for married couples filing jointly, $112,000 for heads of household or $75,000 for individuals, are eligible to receive the checks.

However, not everyone who earns less than these values are eligible. You must have worked continuously in 2020 throughout the pandemic, and people classed as dependents are not eligible

Read more here

Will Build Back Better be signed into law this year?

Democrat Senator Joe Manchin signaled on Wednesday that he's alright with a plan to vote on President Biden's $1.75 trillion social and climate spending bill by the end of the year, a day after warning that he had concerns with the Christmas timeline. 

"I'm not in charge of the timing. Whatever they want to do is fine with me," Manchin told reporters, asked if he was comfortable bringing up the spending bill this year.  

Pressed if he was OK with bringing it up this year, Manchin added:  "Whatever they wanna do is fine. ... If we're gonna vote, vote.

How much is taken out of your Social Security check for Medicare?


How much is taken out of your Social Security check for Medicare?

On 12 November, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMM) released the 2022 premium prices and deductibles for Medicare Parts A and B.

Across the board, those on Medicare will pay more for their care. The price of the premium for Medicare Part B, which most members are required to pay, will increase fifteen percent from $148.50 to $171. This increase is almost triple the Social Security Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) those on social security will see reflected in their benefits next year.

Read more here

McConnell 'proud' to back Biden infrastructure bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to talk up the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law on Monday – saying it is 'extremely good' for his home state of Kentucky.

McConnell skipped the Monday pep rally and signing ceremony that Biden oversaw at the White House – although senior Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, who helped negotiate the deal and who is retiring – attended. 

'I've watched each of the two previous administrations struggle with the issue of how to meet the infrastructure needs of the country,' McConnell told reporters in the Senate – acknowledging former President Donald Trump's failure to push through an infrastructure bill

Trump attacks own party for approving the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package

President Trump has issued a statement warning Republicans, none of whom have shown any support for the reconciliation bill, that if they were to vote for the package they would never receive an endorsement from him. The warning is a bit redundant as Democrats chose the reconciliation legislative path, knowing that Republicans would never sign onto the legislation. 

In the statement Trump takes direct aim at the Senate Minority Leader who he says "he allowed the Democrats to get their act together and pass the $1.2 trillion "non-infrastructure" Green New Deal bill." A strange use of the phrase "get your act together" which typically implies that a positive change has or will be made. Nonetheless, Trump's attack gets personal, but it seems that it will have little impact on the negotiations on the reconciliation bill, which are not being obstructed by Republicans, rather conservatice Demcorats. 

Will Dems pass the reconciliation bill this week?

Democrats are confident that they will pass their Build Back Better package this week, saying they’ll rally the support of wary moderates who say they want more information on the measure’s cost before voting for it.

Progressive caucus chair Pramila Jayapal explains how she believes the bill will address the rising inflation in the US, which is on course to be 6%; the highest in a decade.

How many Golden State Stimulus check payments are being sent this week in California?

Golden State Stimulus

How many Golden State Stimulus check payments are being sent this week in California?

At least 750,000 paper California stimulus checks were sent out via mail last Monday, the California Franchise Tax Board (CFTB) announced.

On Friday, the state issued about 34,000 direct deposits of the Golden State Stimulus II payments, the Board added. Most direct deposits were sent by the end of October.

"We expect the vast majority of all GSS II payments will be issued by year's end, but they will continue into early next year," a spokesperson for the Tax Board said.

Nearly all the current checks being sent are physical paper checks. They are sent in batches based on resident's zip codes, with the latest round being sent to people living in zip codes 303-543. It could take up to three weeks for the batch to be fully sent and received, estimated to be by December 3, 2021.

Read more here

Reward for Sinema beckons as opposition to Democrat plans could land her a safe seat

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he "would be surprised if Republicans tried to unseat" Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) when she comes up for reelection in 2024, according to Politico.

Politico added that Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) has repeatedly asked Sinema to join the GOP. The young senator has made a name for herself by repeatedly disrupting Democrat legislative plans. it seems to have made her friends on the other side of the aisle, who apparently feel they can count on her to support the Republican view in the Senate.

Sinema has also been criticized for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from big oil and big pharma, during her short time as senator.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the new rates beneficiaries will pay on premiums, deductibles and coinsurance in 2022 for Medicare. Despite the standard premium for Medicare’s outpatient care coverage outpacing the 2022 COLA increase for Social Security benefits, the dollar amount of the former is less than the latter.

That will be of little comfort to those on a fixed income dealing with record inflation on food and fuel as a result of the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic. 

Full details

Manchin says about Biden Build Back Better Bill "If we're gonna vote, vote"

Just a day after expresing concerns about the Christmas timeline for passing President Biden's "care economy" spending package, including the enhanced Child Tax Credit extension, Senator Joe Manchin indicated that he's willing to cast his vote before the end of the year.

One caveat though, he didn't say if he'd vote in favor of the sweeping $1.75 trillion spending package which could be passed by the House this week.

Biden on the road to sell infrastructure bill

President Biden is out barnstorming the United States along with fellow Democrats to raise awareness and take credit for the historic infrastructure legislation he signed into law on Monday. The bill is the biggest investment in US infrastructure since the creation of the US highway system under President Eisenhower nearly 70 years ago.

The day after enacting the legislation Biden visited Woodstock, New Hampshire for a photo-op in front of a crumbling bridge that has been in need of funding for needed repairs for years. On Wednesday he visited a GM manufacturing plant in Detroit, Michigan where electric Hummers are being assembled.

US stimulus checks: live updates

Good morning and welcome to the AS USA's coverage of the ongoing Congressional wrangling over the fate of President Biden's Build Back Better proposals. 

AS USA will be running you through all the related news for Thursday 18 November and update on the long-awaited fourth stimulus check, Child Tax Credit extension and the Social Security COLA increase.