Stimulus Check Update: White House Aims to Replenish Coronavirus Funds
President Biden's White House is calling for further funding for COVID-19 testing and treatments but hasn't ruled out further stimulus checks.
With Covid-19 funds quickly running dry, the White House is now calling on Congress to swiftly approve more funding that will continue to bolster Covid-19 testing supplies and to guarantee that uninsured Americans keep receiving free treatment for the virus.
Perhaps, if this funding is just the start, there could be a possibility that more direct financial help could be sent out to Americans in the form of stimulus checks. “From the COVID side, the bank account is empty,” said Covid-19 deputy coordinator Natalie Quillian, per the Associated Press. “We’re in conversations with lawmakers about how to secure the funding, but it’s urgently needed,” she continued.
Americans Still Hurting
Over the course of the two-year-long health crisis, Congress has approved three direct payments to most eligible Americans—a $1,200 check in April 2020, $600 in December, and the $1,400 payments given the go-ahead last spring under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
But all across the country, the pandemic is still causing headaches and the current high-inflationary pressures are only continuing to get worse—putting even more strain on the pocketbooks of ordinary, pandemic-weary Americans.
With a full year in the rear-view mirror since the passage of the American Rescue Plan, there are still plenty of passionate calls for more stimulus checks.
However, the current White House call for more funds of around $16 billion will ultimately go toward antibody treatments, preventative injections for the immunocompromised, and community testing sites, officials have said. “This is an urgent request and this is what is at stake in our fight against COVID,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said late last week. “Given how costly COVID has been with so many of our fellow Americans hospitalized or dying, and our daily lives disrupted, we simply cannot afford to wait on investing now and keeping people protected,” she continued.
Hints of More Stimulus?
But that doesn’t mean that another round of payments is entirely off the table. In January, Psaki admitted during a press conference that “we’re in constant conversations” when asked about more direct payments to Americans.
Moreover, this past summer, she told reporters that “[President Biden] is happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what’s most important to the economy moving forward.” And during a separate media briefing, she essentially punted the responsibility to Congress: “We’ll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free.”
In addition, recurring monthly “stimulus” checks could come in the form of a resurrected enhanced child tax credit. Under Sen. Mitt Romney’s Family Security Act, eligible families with children up to five years of age would receive $350 per child, and families with children older than that up to seventeen would be in line to get $250 per child.
In likely an effort to garner more bipartisan support, there is a work requirement attached to the payments, which also has been pushed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.