Now that Congress is back in session, having returned from a brief recess, there’s hope that one or both chambers might take up legislation regarding a fourth stimulus check, or perhaps at least offer some sense of the likelihood or not of whether one will be coming at all soon.
On the side of the ledger making the case for why one could be possible: Democrats, remember, control both the House and Senate (albeit by the slimmest margin possible in the latter, thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaker vote to end any 50-50 logjam). Also, next year will bring the mid-term elections, which is to say that comity and a willingness in Congress to work on a bipartisan basis is going to temporarily evaporate. So if a fourth stimulus check is going to be approved at all, it needs to happen soon. And perhaps most importantly, this is something that Americans want, badly. A Change.org petition, for example, calling for additional stimulus checks has picked up more than 2.3 million signatures as of the time of this writing.
The Biden administration, through Press Secretary Jen Psaki, was already asked about this in recent months — specifically, about what the president’s thoughts are regarding a fourth stimulus check, following the previous three that have been sent out since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Those payments included two last year, under the Trump administration (for $1,200 and $600), and then the $1,400 checks that Congress authorized soon after President Biden was sworn into office earlier this year.
Something else that could tip the scales in favor of a fourth round of stimulus checks is new data from the University of Michigan, showing that the number of households with children dealing with problems like food shortages and financial instability fell between 20% and 42% from January through April. The idea being, see, that improvement could be accelerated with even more government spending.
Of course, at the same time, lawmakers could also use the decline in those social problems as a reason not to support more stimulus checks — as if to say, well, the previous stimulus checks did what they were supposed to, so why would we spend more money that we don’t have on checks that we don’t need?
Here, though, is perhaps the biggest clue of all that Congress might not be eager to so quickly re-up things and get a fourth stimulus check out the door anytime soon:
In a manner of speaking, a fourth stimulus check is actually already teed up and ready to go. We’re referring, of course, to the expansion of the federal child tax credit that’s being sliced up into six monthly stimulus checks and which will be paid out to families starting in July, continuing each month through December. In total, families will receive $3,600 per eligible child. This is not the “fourth stimulus check,” not as such, but it is a fourth stimulus check, in that it comes sequentially after the third — and the first one in this new series should start arriving on July 15.