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Fourth stimulus check news summary: Friday 17 December

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with members of the White House COVID-19 Response Team on the latest developments related to the Omicron variant in the Roosevelt Room in the White House in Washington, U.S., December 16, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

US stimulus checks: live updates


- Unemployment dropped in 40 states in November

- Over 200,000 fewer Americans quit their jobs in October, comapred to the figures captured in September. 

- Pelosi hints at potential double payment of Child Tax Credit in February

- Biden: It could take "days and weeks" to pass Build Back Better bill

-Federal Reserve will slash stimulus spending in the coming months 

- World shares rise as US Federal Reserve sped up the pace of tapering

- Could the Omicron variant lead to another stimulus check?

- Unemployment rate in the US down to 4.2% after 210,000 jobs added in November

Useful information & links

Child Tax Credit

- Biden faces a battle to secure Child Tax Credit extension

- IRS sends out final Child Tax Credit payment of 2021 on 15 December

Stimulus checks

- In Atlanta, some medical students are to get a $6,300 stimulus check.

- New parents could see another stimulus check reflected in their tax refund in 2022.

- What is the deadline to claim stimulus check plus-up payments in 2021?

- Congress urged to approve new stimulus check for Social Security recipients

Social Security

- How many Social Security payments are still to be sent out in 2021?

- Details of 2022 COLA increase being mailed to Social Security recipients

- What is the maximum Social Security benefit for 2022?

- 5.9% COLA increase -how much does this affect benefits?


- What is the natural unemployment rate formula?

Latest articles:

Wall St

Wall Street ends down after mostly negative week

Wall Street finished lower on Friday, weighed down by Big Tech as investors worried about the Omicron coronavirus variant and digested the Federal Reserve's decision to end its pandemic-era stimulus faster.

All three main U.S. stock indexes ended with a decline for the week after the Fed on Wednesday signaled three quarter-percentage-point interest rate hikes by the end of 2022 to combat surging inflation.

Nvidia dropped 2.1% and Alphabet lost 1.9%, both weighing on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. The S&P 500 growth index lost 0.7% and the value index declined 1.4%.

IRS pushes social media platforms

The Internal Revenue Service reminds customers of its various social media channels with each one offering top tax tips and taxpayer-friendly information.

When will borrowers need to start paying student loans?

During the pandemic, the federal governments created a loan forbearance program meaning that borrowers did not have to make payments on their loan and they could not be charged internet. However, this program is set to end in February, wherein those with loans will need to begin paying them again. This has reignatnted calls on the President to forgive the dbet. 

Consumer spending is set to increase this month as hundreds of thousands of shoppers hit stores in their areas to prepare for the holidays. Tomorrow is Super Saturday and millions are set to hit brick and morter retailers. 

That’s absolutely our plan.  The President wants to see this move forward, as I think you saw in his statement, early next year. 

I would note — not that this was your question, but this is a prominent question we get about the Child Tax Credit, which is a component of this, not the only component.  And if we get it done in January, we’ve talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option.  But the President wants to see this move forward.  It’s a priority for him as soon as Congress returns. 

It is true that I think when members go back to their districts and talk to people in their communities, they will hear about their concerns about rising costs in a range of areas.  And the price — the case the President will continue to make, and members who are strong advocates for this will continue to make, is that this bill, the Build Back Better bill, will lower costs for the American people — childcare, healthcare, eldercare, things that are impacting people’s pocketbooks on a daily basis.  And we’re eager to move it forward in January.

Jen Pskai, Press Secretary

My team and I are having ongoing discussions with Senator Manchin; that work will continue next week. It takes time to finalize these agreements, prepare the legislative changes, and finish all the parliamentary and procedural steps needed to enable a Senate vote. We will advance this work together over the days and weeks ahead; Leader Schumer and I are determined to see the bill successfully on the floor as early as possible.

Build Back Better is urgently needed to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health care, child care, and elder care. Notwithstanding the unrelenting Republican obstruction – not a single Republican is willing to move forward on the bill – I am determined to see this bill enacted into law, to give America’s families the breathing room they deserve. We also need urgent action on climate change and other priorities in the Build Back Better plan. 

Joseph Biden, President of the United States

Will the Build Back Better bill be passed by Christmas?

Many Democratic leaders had hoped to have the BBB bill passed by Christmas, but CNN is reporting that discussions between the White House and Senator Joe Machin are "not going well." The Democrats need Machin's vote to pass the legislature through a process known as budget reconciliation, but so far he has said that he will not vote to approve the trillion-dollar package. 

CNN's Manu Raju spoke with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and both responded that the extension of the child tax credit would not be cut from the bill, describing it as "non-negotiable." Machin has said that he is not opposed to the credit, but he would like to see it passed as a standalone will. However, with no Republicans willing to support that bill, there are not many legislative advantages as it would limit the number of reconciliation bills the Senate could pass next year. 

The job market is shifting. The number of unemployed people currently looking for a job was neared pre-pandemic levels, yet businesses are still struggling to staff up-- more than 11 million jobs remain open. Additionally, with the labor market on the side of workers, many have quit in record numbers in looking for higher pay and greater flexibility. CBS took a greater look at these forces. 

Which states saw an increase in unemployment in November?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that no states saw increases in unemployment in November, but ten did not see any decreases. 

The national average fell to 4.2 percent down more than 2.5 percent since November 2020. 

States with the lowest unemployment rates included Nebraska (1.8 percent) and Utah (2.1 percent). Additionally, Georgia (2.8 percent), Nebraska (1.8 percent), Oklahoma (2.5 percent), Utah (2.1 percent), and West Virginia (4.0 percent) all recorded their lowest unemployment rates since the pandemic began. 

COLA: When will the first Social Security benefit checks arrive in 2022?


COLA: When will the first Social Security benefit checks arrive in 2022?

Waiting for the COLA increase for your Social Security payments to hit? The IRS has confirmed that everything is in place for the boosted payments to go out in 2022, but that they will be staggered across different groups. In fact, one group could even begin to receive the boosted Social Security payments before the end of 2021... 

Read more

Will the Senate approve Medicare expansion?

The Build Back Better bill is a landmark piece of legislation which would boost the social safety net for tens of millions of Americans. Central to the effort is the proposed expansion of Medicare programmes to include dental and vision coverage for the first time. The House of Representatives has already approved the bill but President Biden is yet to build sufficient support in the Senate. 

It’s been 9 months since the third stimulus check: could a fourth one still happen in 2022?


It’s been 9 months since the third stimulus check: could a fourth one still happen in 2022?

During the first year of the pandemic the federal government sent out three rounds of Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, to roughly 169 million Americans in the most recent round of payments. However, the conditions have changed in the nine months since the last stimulus checks for up to $1,400 were approved in March, strengthening calls for a fourth stimulus check in the near future if the spread of the Omicron variant continues. 

Read more

Lawmakers push Senate to approve Build Back Better

For now the fate of President Biden's Build Back Better bill remains in the Senate, but recent comments from Sen. Joe Manchin have made it seem unlikely that an agreement is close. The West Virginia Senator has long expressed concern about the full cost of the package but has now reiterated his reluctance to extend the Child Tax Credit, a cornerstone of Biden's proposals. 

"If we get [Build Back Better] done in January, we've talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option."

Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary
Fourth stimulus check: will the Omicron variant make the US government approve a new payment?


Fourth stimulus check: will the Omicron variant make the US government approve a new payment?

Throughout the pandemic stimulus checks have been sent out when Americans faced the most severe financial consequences from covid-19. In March 2020 the first round of payments was sent to provide relief for those who had lost their jobs or other sources of income. Last winter both President Trump and President Biden passed legislation providing stimulus checks as areas of the country were forced to lock down again in response to the growing tide of covid-19 cases. 

This winter, with Omicron causing the infection rate to spike once again, is there any chance of a fourth stimulus check in the near future?

Read more

Fed Reserve cuts stimulus to tackle inflation

The Federal Reserve, America's central bank, announced on Wednesday that it would be scaling back the stimulus measures that have been in place since March 2020 in response to the pandemic. The Fed has been employing a measure known as quantitive easing to ensure that the US economy is kept afloat, but there are concerns that the roughly $4 trillion poured in in the last 21 months has exacerbated inflation .

Stimulus check: Which families are eligible to receive $1,400 in 2022?


Stimulus check: Which families are eligible to receive $1,400 in 2022?

Over the course of 2021 the IRS hase sent out payments to around 169 million people as part of the third round of stimulus checks that was included in the American Rescue Plan. The vast majority of eligible residents have received their full entitlement but some people who experienced a loss of income during the year may now be entitled to more than they had initially thought. 

Some people could be in line to get a stimulus check worth up to $1,400 in the New Year, but how do you know if you are eligible?

Read more

Biden may consider a double Child Tax Credit payment in February

There is growing concern that the expanded Child Tax Credit programme will expire at the end of the year as Congress struggles to find a compromise on an extension. A one-year extension is included in the Build Back Better bill but without the votes of some key moderate Democrats, passage looks impossible. 

President Biden will likely choose to return to the subject in the New Year, but by the time any new legislation has been enacted the IRS will probably have missed at least one payment. As such, Biden may consider authorising double payments in the near future to cover the missing cash. 

What is the history of the US debt ceiling and why does it matter?


What is the history of the US debt ceiling and why does it matter?

The debt ceiling marks the upper limit of total national debt and has been raised countless times over the last century by both parties to avoid a default.

Full details

Why is the Federal Reserve cutting back stimulus? How will this affect stimulus check payments?


Why is the Federal Reserve cutting back stimulus? How will this affect stimulus check payments?

The Federal Reserve has confirmed that it intends to reduce the level of financial stimulus in the US economy in the coming months to help combat inflation.

Full story

Military spending budget criticized

An opinion piece by Politico notes that the Senate voted to approve a $778 billion military spending budget - four times as much as the annual cost of the entire Build Back Better plan - on the day that 61 million families received their final Child Tax Credit payment.

Pelosi hits back at Republican bill claims

Republicans in the US Congress last week attacked Democratic President Joe Biden's proposed $1.75 trillion social bill, releasing a nonpartisan estimate that said it could increase the federal deficit by $3 trillion over a decade if its programs are made permanent.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had asked the Congressional Budget Office to calculate the bill's effects on the deficit if programs -- including a child tax credit and free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds -- would continue over 10 years, rather than phasing out sooner as proposed by Democrats.

Republicans had earlier criticized the phaseouts as maneuvers to underestimate the bill's cost, and contend the bill would worsen inflation.


Dollar jumps on central bank news

The dollar rose on Friday as markets approached the end of a busy week in which major central banks laid out plans to unwind pandemic-era stimulus.

The greenback got a lift in morning trading in New York after a Federal Reserve official said in a television interview that the Fed will gain 'optionality' to raise interest rates in 2022 by ending bond purchases by March.

Central banks are moving at different speeds to adjust their monetary policies, underlining deep uncertainties about how the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant will hit the global economy and how persistently high inflation will be.

The dollar index rose 0.2% on the day to 96.1970. The euro and sterling fell about 0.3% after gains the two previous days and stood at $1.1299 and $1.3284, respectively, at 1454 GMT.

Photo by REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration


White House committed to passing spending bill

The White House will continue to push for the president's Build Back Better spending bill to be enacted, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday, adding that recent talks with key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin were encouraging.

"The president's going to get this done and we're going to get it across the finish line. And yes, it's going to take more time than we anticipated," she told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Joe Biden traveled to South Carolina.

On Thursday, Biden signaled that his key domestic spending plan tackling social supports and climate change may not pass this year. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had pledged to pass it by the end of the year.

Psaki on Friday acknowledged passage hinges on the narrow majority Biden's fellow Democrats hold in the Senate, making Manchin a critical voice. Manchin, a moderate from the Republican stronghold of West Virginia, has raised a number of issues with the bill amid continuing negotiations.

Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP

Double Child Tax Credit payments possible in February - Psaki

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration is looking at distributing double Child Tax Credit payments in February if the president’s Build Back Better bill is passed in the New Year.  

If we get it done in January, we'd talk to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option," Psaki told reporters on Friday, per The Hill.

The Build Back Better bill proposes extending the current expanded Child Tax Credit scheme, which has seen qualifying American households receive up to $300 per month per child since July.

The programme, which was brought in as part of the American Rescue Plan this year, is due to expire at the end of December.

At present, moderate Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin are holding up attempts to get the Build Back Better legislation through Congress.

How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

Stimulus Checks

How much were the first, second and third stimulus checks and when were they sent out?

Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, three federal stimulus checks have been distributed to qualifying Americans. Under President Trump, direct payments for up to $1,200 and $600 were sent out in April and December 2020, respectively, before a check for a maximum of $1,400 was approved shortly after President Biden took office in January 2021.

We look back over each of the three federal stimulus checks


Omicron delivers another uncertain holiday season to pandemic-weary Americans

Americans face an uncertain and anxiety-filled holiday season for the second consecutive year, as the highly contagious Omicron variant threatens to intensify an already alarming surge of covid19 cases.

Public health officials have voiced deepening concerns about the rising number of infections warning that hospitals - still fighting the effects of the Delta variant - could find themselves stretched beyond their limits if the two variants combine to create a fresh wave.

While states have not sought to impose broad shutdowns, the disease's advances have prompted a new round of restrictions, as offices have postponed return-to-office dates, universities have moved exams online and some states and cities have reimposed mask mandates.

In New York City, several Broadway shows, including "Hamilton," "Tina" and "Mrs. Doubtfire: The Musical" canceled performances, citing breakthrough covid infections among their cast or crew.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said on Thursday that the Omicron variant would soon dominate infections.


Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters the economy was "making rapid progress toward maximum employment." There were a record 11.0 million job openings at the end of October. The unemployment rate fell to a 21-month low of 4.2% in November. There are signs that the labor market crunch is starting to ease.

Indeed Hiring Lab's job search survey on Wednesday showed the share of the population actively looking for paid work rose two percentage points to 29.1% in November from the prior month.

 The rise reflected a jump among the unemployed to the highest level since the survey started in June. But rising covid-19 infections and the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could discourage some people from looking for work.

Millions of unemployed Americans have remained home even as generous federal government-funded unemployment benefits ended in early September and schools reopened for in-person learning. The workforce is 2.4 million below its pre-pandemic level.


US weekly jobless claims rise moderately as labor market tightens

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased moderately last week, remaining at levels consistent with tightening labor market conditions.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 206,000 for the week ended Dec. 11, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims dropped to 188,000 in the prior week.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 200,000 applications for the latest week. Claims have declined from a record high of 6.149 million in early April of 2020.

Applications typically increase around the holiday season as companies temporarily close, but an acute shortage of workers has disrupted that seasonal pattern, resulting in large declines in the seasonally adjusted claims numbers in recent weeks.

Aside from the year-end volatility in claims, the labor market is strengthening.


Dollar continues to struggles after central banks show their hands

The dollar remained under pressure on Friday at the end of a week in which major central banks laid out plans to unwind pandemic-era stimulus, with the Bank of England surprising markets with a rate hike.

The different paths they took underlined deep uncertainties about how the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant will hit the global economy, and the central banks' differing views on an inflation surge that is landing hard in the United States and Britain, but less so in Europe and particularly Japan.

Biden stresses family aspect of Build Back Better

In a social media spot, the US president explained how the Build Back Better bill will "rebuild the backbone of America."


$2.89 billion awarded to airports under infrastructure law

The US Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday it will award $2.89 billion to 3,075 airports under a new $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law last month.

Airports can use funds for runways, taxiways, safety, terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects. The infrastructure law provides $15 billion over five years and the FAA estimates there is a $43.6 billion backlog in airport modernization and safety projects.

Atlanta's International Airport will receive $92.5 million, the most of any airport, while Los Angeles International will get $79.3 million and Chicago O'Hare $73.7 million.

During the pandemic, some airports were forced to put some projects on hold because of lower passenger volumes.

Airports have received about $20 billion in emergency pandemic funding since March 2020 from Congress.

San Francisco International Airport is set to receive $49.35 million from the FAA for the current budget year. It will use the funds to complete the final phase of the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 – including the construction of a new check-in lobby, which was postponed due to covid, and upgrading of the airport's electrical power distribution infrastructure.

In total, San Francisco's airport is set to receive about $250 million over five years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the funds will shorten lines at the terminal.

The infrastructure law has $25 billion for aviation including $15 billion nationwide in formula funding for airport development grants based on passengers. There is also a $5-billion grant program nationally for airport terminal and landside improvements, and $5 billion for FAA towers and facilities funding.

Photo by REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Democrats dealt setback in bid to grant millions of migrants work permits

Democrats in the US Congress suffered a major setback on Thursday in their effort to grant work permits to millions of immigrants who have been living in the United States illegally for a decade or longer.

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who advises lawmakers on what is acceptable under legislature rules, rejected the inclusion of the Democrats' proposal in President Joe Biden's $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill.

Senator Dick Durbin, the no. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters that he was "disappointed and we're considering what options remain."

The parliamentarian previously rejected two other Democratic attempts to bundle immigration provisions into Biden's domestic investment bill.

MacDonough rejected the proposal on Thursday saying it would increase the deficit by $131 billion over 10 years and included "substantial policy changes with lasting effects," which had already been considered and thrown out before, according to the text of the decision sent to lawmakers.

Her decision could shut the door on Democrats' hopes of passing immigration reform anytime soon, since it could be even more difficult to pass a bill next year as lawmakers shift attention to their November 2022 re-election campaigns.

wall st

Stocks fall on Omicron fears and after central banks' hawkish tilt

Stocks fell on Friday as investors worried about surging Omicron cases and wrestled with this week's hawkish turn from major central banks in the fight against inflation.

European stocks dropped, Asian shares closed near the year's lows and Wall Street looked set to open weaker after a bruising previous session that was led by sharp falls in tech stocks.

By 0905 GMT, the pan-European EUROSTOXX was down 0.48% . Germany's DAX dropped 0.48%, although Britain's FTSE 100 bucked the trend with a 0.1% rise.

Wall Street futures were in the red. U.S. stocks have now reversed all of their gains from Wednesday when markets welcomed the Federal Reserve's commitment to tackle rising inflation with faster bond tapering and interest rate rises next year.

"Let's get this passed"

US President Joe Biden takes to Twitter to reiterate his intention to drive he "Build Back Better" bill though

IRS unveil new identity verification tool

The Internal Revenue Service have confirmed the unveiling of a new online identity verification process for accessing self-help tools.


Joe Biden says it will take 'days and weeks' for Build Back Better bill

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday appeared to acknowledge that his Build Back Better bill may not pass the Senate in the remaining weeks of this year, saying Democrats would seek to advance the legislation "over the days and weeks ahead."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has set a Christmas deadline for passing the $1.75 trillion social spending and climate change bill.

Biden has been in negotiations with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who has withheld his support for the bill, making him a key vote in the evenly divided chamber. "I believe that we will bridge our differences and advance the Build Back Better plan, even in the face of fierce Republican opposition," Biden said in a statement.

He said Manchin has reiterated his support for the overall cost of the bill.

Good morning and welcome to our daily live blog for Friday, 17 December 2021, bringing you the latest news on President Biden's Build Back Better bill, whose provisions include funding for schemes such as the expanded Child Tax Credit.

We'll also be providing updates on a possible fourth federal stimulus check, in addition to information on unemployment and Social Security benefits.


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