The $1,400 stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan continue to go out, with another 2 million checks being sent last week in the latest round. They’re expected to continue being distributed for a while longer, but in the meantime there’s a push underway to pass a fourth stimulus package, joining the two that passed in 2020 and this year’s American Rescue Plan.
What would such a package look like, and how money would be in each new stimulus check?
That’s unclear, for now. The Biden Administration has not officially announced a proposal for a fourth stimulus, and it’s unclear if they will.
Back in January, per CBS News, a group of Democratic lawmakers led by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota pushed for recurring $2,000 checks for the duration of the pandemic. The $2,000 figure came from a tweet from Omar, not from the group’s letter.
"One more check is not enough during this public health and economic crisis,” the group wrote at the time. "Many families cannot afford to wait for eight months between payments. To truly build back better, families need stability and certainty through ongoing relief — they cannot be at the mercy of congressional gridlock.”
That proposal was a nonstarter, and Congress and president ultimately settled on the one-time $1,400 payments, which added up to the $2,000 figure often mentioned during last year’s election season, when added to the $600 that was sent out beginning last December.
More recently, a group of Democratic senators called for a fourth stimulus, in a letter to President Biden.
“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. 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. Families should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” the letter, whose authors included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Ron Wyden, said.
The letter, however, did not specify a dollar amount for the checks, but it did ask the president to include checks in his infrastructure package, which is the administration’s next big legislative priority.
Biden has not indicated that he plans to include the checks in the infrastructure plan, and his initial set of proposals did not include them.
Should Biden decide to push a fourth stimulus, it would likely take place later in 2021, after the checks from the Rescue Plan have been exhausted, and it would be subject to negotiation with Congress. There’s a chance it will be a smaller amount than the first check, which was the case in 2020.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.