Even though millions of Americans are still using stimulus money to pay for necessities, pandemic support from the government is running out.
Last week, the IRS sent another 1.1 million payments to Americans as part of the federal government’s most recent COVID-19 relief bill. While the payments total more than $2 billion, it’s the smallest amount released since the latest round of direct aid began on March 12.
And those numbers are only going to get smaller.
That’s a worrying prospect if you’re struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. Advocacy groups are clamoring for another round of stimulus checks, but after all the Congressional wrangling it took to get the third batch approved, anyone fighting for a fourth has their work cut out for them.
Who’s calling for a fourth stimulus check?
The chorus of voices calling for extra direct payments grew significantly in the past week — by more than 2 million.
An online petition started by an out-of-work restaurant owner in Denver is calling for $2,000 stimulus checks for adults and $1,000 payments for children, followed by regular checks for the duration of the pandemic.
As of noon on Friday, 2.12 million people had already signed it.
“The recovery hasn’t reached many Americans – the true unemployment rate for low-wage workers is estimated at over 20%, and many people face large debts from last year for things like utilities, rent and child care,” writes Stephanie Bonin, the petition’s organizer. “It took nine months for Congress to send a second stimulus check, and just moments to spend it. Moving forward, Congress needs to make recurring checks automatic if certain triggers are met.”
Additional stimulus checks could be a game-changer. The Economic Security Project estimates that two additional stimulus checks would lift 12 million Americans out of poverty.
The White House is also under mounting pressure from members of Biden’s own party, who say a fourth stimulus check should begin a recurring series of cash payments that extends until the pandemic subsides.
“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads,” says a letter sent to Biden by more than 20 U.S. senators. “Families should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.”
Will the president call for a fourth check?
Biden has been clear in his appraisal of just how important the first three rounds of stimulus checks have been for the survival of American families. In recent remarks delivered to Congress, the president said direct payments from the government are “making all the difference in the world.”
But he still hasn’t indicated whether he’s in favor of you getting another check. His press secretary hasn’t, either.
When asked about the possibility of recurring checks, Jen Psaki recently told reporters that such a proposal would need to work its way through Congress, adding that such programs “are not free.”
The cost of another round of checks, let alone recurring monthly payments, is a major sticking point — for both Republicans and Democrats. Biden is already trying to get over $4 trillion in spending approved by a very divided Congress. Adding hundreds of billions of dollars in recurring payments, especially at a time when the country’s economy is improving, will be a very tough sell.
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