More likely No Fourth Stimulus Checks will come as Covid-19 cases are Declining

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MACUNGIE, PENNSYLVANIA - JULY 28: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at Mack Truck Lehigh Valley Operations on July 28, 2021 in Macungie, Pennsylvania. President Biden spoke to a crowd of supporters at Mack Truck Lehigh Valley Operations about the importance of manufacturing in America and buying products made in America and supplying job to workers. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Don’t waste time wishing for another COVID-19 stimulus check from Washington. Though many Americans — including 2.9 million who have now signed an online petition — are pleading for more relief, President Joe Biden and the Democrats running Congress have moved on to other things.

But although some members of Congress have previously called for additional aid for households still weathering the financial effects of the pandemic, there have not been meaningful discussions at the federal level about issuing another round of checks.

Now that the third round of pandemic relief stimulus checks has been long spent, you might wonder if there’s any potential for a fourth round of payments. In short, no. However, a few states have opted to issue payments of their own.Lawmakers instead are focusing on other measures to provide financial support, like child tax credit payments.

Direct payments and other pandemic relief programs have been shown to curb housing and food insecurity during the pandemic. Without them, it’s likely the economic recovery after the early pandemic recession in spring 2020 would move even slower than the gradual progress it’s been making for the last year and a half.

But although some members of Congress have previously called for additional aid for households still weathering the financial effects of the pandemic, there have not been meaningful discussions at the federal level about issuing another round of checks.

What States Are Sending New Stimulus Checks?

Many states have either sent, or are sending, stimulus checks to qualifying residents.

California

In July, California announced the Golden Gate Stimulus deal to provide a payment to 5.7 million people. Taxpayers earning between $30,000 and $75,000 per year can receive one-time payments of $600, and households with dependents can receive an additional $500. Distribution of those payments began in September.

New York

In April, New York started offering one-time payments of up to $15,000 for undocumented immigrants who couldn’t work due to the pandemic. Applications are considered in the order received, and the state has cautioned that the fund is nearly empty.

New Mexico

New Mexico announced one-time payments of $750 to more than 4,000 low-income households that didn’t receive federal stimulus payments. Applications for this program are no longer accepted, and payments were issued in early August.

Maryland

In Maryland, taxpayers with qualifying income could receive up to $500. Those payments were authorized and processed in February 2021.

Colorado

In Colorado, anyone who received unemployment benefits between March and October 2020 automatically received a one-time payment of $375.

Other State Programs

Other states have chosen to send direct payments to certain groups of frontline workers. Some teachers in Georgia and Florida received payments in 2021; in Minnesota, those receiving bonus checks included grocery store workers and medical center staffers.

In some cases, additional direct payments have come from state budgets: California’s, for one, was funded by a surplus in state income tax revenue. Other state programs have used federal pandemic aid to distribute money to residents directly.

Is Congress Calling for a Fourth Stimulus Payment?

Discussion on Capitol Hill about issuing additional stimulus payments has quieted since the spring.

In late March, a group of more than 20 Democratic senators signed a letter to Biden asking for additional aid for Americans. The group recommended recurring direct payments instead of a one-time check.

“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,” the letter said.

In addition, a group of more than 60 Democratic members of the House of Representatives signed a letter urging Biden to consider further direct payments.

The letter encouraged an additional relief package that would provide ongoing payments to adults and dependents who need it most—namely, households with lower incomes. It also requested that further direct payments ensure that eligible households receive funds more quickly than in previous rounds of aid, with better outreach to make sure people are aware of their eligibility.

But since those calls for action, a couple key events have happened.

First, child tax credits started rolling out to eligible households who opted to receive them monthly rather than receiving the entire credit on their tax return. The temporary changes to the tax credit were designed to provide reliable income for households with children, much like the recurring payments Democratic members had suggested. With the economy in recovery mode and payments going to parents and caregivers, there’s unlikely to be further demand from Congress or the White House to support taxpayers with additional direct payments.

The other element is intense fighting in Congress. The House of Representatives and the Senate have been tasked with adopting a budget, deciding whether to raise the debt ceiling, and determining spending amounts for infrastructure and social program spending.

But passing legislation in a closely divided Congress has been a struggle, with some decisions—like passing a budget resolution to avoid a government shutdown—coming dangerously close to deadlines.

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