WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — While there’s no reason to believe a fourth federal stimulus check will hit your bank account in the near future, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people, including lawmakers, pushing for another direct payment.
Some economists are pointing to the fact many Americans are still struggling. Recent jobless reports have come in higher than predicted — largely blamed on the surge of the Delta variant. Last week’s claims came in at 362,000, an increase of 11,000 from the prior week. The figure was also higher than the 335,000 predicted by analysts.
A CBS News report sourcing Census data noted about 25% of Americans struggled to pay their monthly expenses in the last couple weeks of August. Days after that, $5 billion in enhanced federal unemployment benefits expired. That impacted about 9 million Americans.
So who is actually in favor of relief in the form of new direct payments? For one, about 3 million people who have signed a Change.org petition backing new relief. In fact, the petition calls for lawmakers in Washington to sign off on recurring $2,000 monthly payments.
“Moving forward, Congress needs to make recurring checks automatic if certain triggers are met,” the petition reads. “No more waiting around for our government to send the help we need. Sign to join our movement to get recurring checks to the people.”
The concept of recurring payments does have some backing in Congress. At the end of March, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for recurring payments.
“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan,” the letter read.
The lawmakers noted the pandemic was far from over and Americans need to be assured they’ll be able to feed and house their loved ones.
“Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” the lawmakers wrote.
The senators did not mention specifics like the size and frequency of the payments. Names on the letter included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.
A poll taken earlier this year by Data for Progress found 65% of Americans supported the idea of recurring $2,000 payments throughout the pandemic.
Even with petitions and some support from lawmakers, the plan isn’t likely to find success in a gridlocked Washington. One big problem for a plan like this: there’s aren’t enough voices in the middle speaking out in support of another round of relief. For that reason, many experts believe it’s just not possible.
Even much earlier this year, Biden barely got his $1.9 trillion relief bill that included a stimulus check through Congress with Republicans arguing it was simply too much spending. Democrats barely advanced the measure through a process that allowed them to pass the legislation with simple majorities.
Right now, the focus remains on infrastructure. Just this week, Biden and Democrats worked to rescue a scaled back version of his $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related public works bill. The White House is focused on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He refused to budge from his demand for a smaller, $1.5 trillion package — less than half Biden’s vision. That’s too meager for progressive lawmakers. The bill includes not direct relief. However, Biden has argued it’ll provide relief in the form of new jobs.
Some governors clearly support the idea. 10 states, including California, are sending out various types of stimulus payments. The measure in The Golden State called for checks up to $600 to be distributed to taxpayers that earn between $30,000 and $75,000 each. Families with dependent children received an additional $500.
The government has issued three direct payments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. About a year-and-a-half ago, the feds sent $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans through the CARES Act. In late 2020, the government approved payments of $600 per person. That was followed up by the third stimulus payment of $1,400.