It’s been assumed by most observers, after the last few months, that the idea of a fourth major round of stimulus checks was dead. The pandemic has been receding, and the economy is starting to return to normal. Furthermore, the Biden Administration has signaled that it’s not interesting in another round of near-universal checks, and has proposed major new spending proposals that do not include such payments.
However, a group of members of Congress has come forward to ask for just that.
In a letter to President Biden that was sent on Monday, seven Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee called for additional checks, including automatic stabilizers.
The letter, which began by praising the American Rescue Plan, went on to call for more aid.
“We welcome this opportunity but urge you to prioritize both automatic UI extensions and recurring direct payments tied to economic conditions,” the letter said. “The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need certainty in a crisis. They deserve to know they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. They should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.”
The solutions proposed match those that have been proposed this year by the Economic Security Project, which is known to have briefed the White House as well as the Senate Finance Committee.
"They understand that this is smart policy and good politics," Adam Ruben, director of the Economic Security Project, said of the Biden White House, in an interview with Newsweek last month. "Putting in place these kinds of triggers would smooth out the recovery and no one is left at the mercy of Washington gridlock in future recessions.”
The signatories of the letter were Rep. Jimmy Gomez of California, Rep. Donald S. Beyer of Virginia, Rep. Judy Chu of California, Rep. Bradley Schneider of Illinois, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California.
The chairman of the committee, Richard Neal of Massachusetts, was not a signatory to the letter.
“Families and workers shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead as the country continues to fight a global pandemic and recession. Two-thirds of adults reported that the third stimulus check was important to their financial well-being. But nearly as many – six in ten – reported that the checks will last less than three months, which is virtually unchanged from January. Most people spent relief checks on monthly expenses or essentials such as food, utilities, rent, and mortgage payments,” the letter continued.
Whether such a plan has enough votes in Congress to pass, much less overcome a filibuster, is another question entirely.
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.