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Fourth stimulus check: Will Congress pass another payment as Omicron sparks an increase in cases? 

The Omicron variant is leading to a surge in cases, leading some businesses to shut their doors voluntarily. Will Congress pass more stimulus?

The Omicron variant is leading to a surge in caes, leading some businesses to shut their doors voluntarily. Will Congress pass more stimulus?

During President Biden’s address to the nation on Tuesday, he warned that in the coming days and weeks the country could experience a surge in covid cases. This increase could result in the collapse of some hospital systems and a tragic number of deaths.

Additionally, many business owners worry that while lockdowns may not be imposed, customers may avoid dining out or shopping to lower the risk of contracting the virus.

In cities like Austin and Chicago businesses are already shutting their doors voluntarily as staff test positive and business hits a dead halt. Empty Bottles in Chicago will be closed until 30 December, with one of the owners, Bruce Finklestone saying: “Our first goal is to look out for the health and welfare not only of our staff but our friends and our customers, and it just seemed to make sense.”

However, haphazard business closures, during what is typically one of the busiest seasons, could lead to another wave of layoffs that could stall the economic recovery. To keep the economy afloat, some are wondering if Congress will consider sending another round of stimulus checks. If unemployment increases, businesses close, and consumer spending falls, all of the recovery made by investments made to sustain the economy could be at risk.

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Will Congress send another stimulus check?

While previous waves of the virus, have been associated with a discussion of another round of stimulus checks, it does not look like one is on the horizon. This comes as many households feel with the effects of historic inflation and the vast majority of economic programs to support households have expired.

Anyone who is laid off will have no federal pandemic unemployment programs to rely on or eviction moratoriums to protect them from losing their homes. Additionally, the last child tax credit payment was sent on 15 December, and since Congress has not passed the Build Back Better (BBB) bill, families will most likely not see a payment in January.

To date, the President has only used executive authority to extend the student loan moratorium through 1 May.

In response to this scant benefit landscape, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said he is worried about “many vulnerable Americans" especially those "with young children [...] falling between the cracks.” Sen. Wyden also noted that that “January looks like a tough month with respect to omicron.”

Representative Jaamal Bowman (D-NY) has made public statements saying that he is hoping to get another stimulus bill through Congress. New York has been hit hard by Omicron, and he is hoping that some federal money could be sent to small businesses and families.

Other members of the Progressive Caucus have continued to push for the BBB bill which would extend the child tax credit, make childcare more affordable, and increase access to healthcare. Early this week negotiation over the bill collapsed after Senator Joe Manchin rejected the proposal put forward by the White House. Without Manchin’s vote, the bill has no chance of becoming law.