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Here’s why you might actually get two stimulus checks in February

Published Dec 22nd, 2021 12:46PM EST
Stimulus check
Image: cabania/Adobe

With the end of 2021 just days away now, we’re already able to make some definitive pronouncements about what lies ahead for people in the New Year. Especially when it comes to the prospect of a new stimulus check for the tens of millions of Americans who got acclimated to receiving those payments on a monthly basis since July.

As everyone likely knows by now, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s refusal to support President Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better law has killed the chance that these monthly payments would continue in January. That’s because the IRS had said it needed Congress to pass this law in a matter of days. Something that won’t happen now that the Senate has adjourned until the new year. So, no new child tax credit payments are coming on January 15.

Child tax credit 2022

All that said, here’s one potential bit of consolation for families who’ve come to rely on the child tax credit stimulus payments.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in recent days that the White House is working toward passage of a bill that funds these checks, one way or another, in January. And that the Biden administration might send families a much bigger check in February to make up for missing one in January. “If we get it done in January, we’ve talked to Treasury officials and others about doing double payments in February as an option,” Psaki said.

That’s not exactly an unprecedented move, either. As we’ve noted in previous posts, some families got a much bigger child tax credit stimulus payment this month than others.

That’s because some families didn’t sign up to get these checks until very late in the year. And, accordingly, the federal government sent them out a check this month that was essentially a catch-up payment. Making up for the missed checks that other families got over a six-month span.

Gaming out the possibility of more stimulus checks

Of course, a double payment in February for everyone depends on the very big “if” implied in Psaki’s statement above. Namely, legislation must get actually passed in January.

Here are a few things to note on that front:

As we explained in a post yesterday, Biden officials haven’t thrown in the towel yet on Build Back Better. Regardless of Sen. Manchin’s refusal thus far to support it. That’s a positive sign. As former Obama advisor David Axelrod notes in the tweet above, one way forward might be to break up the bill. To hold votes on smaller chunks of it, in other words.

However, the path forward for new stimulus checks is even more daunting in 2022 than it was this month, for at least two reasons. One? 2022 is, of course, a midterm election year. There will be zero incentive for Republicans to give Biden any wins whatsoever next year. And the same might hold true for vulnerable Democrats, who face tight re-election prospects.

Two, the White House probably needs to ease up on the rants (like this one) against Manchin. Because they still need his vote for literally every single thing. Democrats can’t afford to go scorched-earth against the West Virginia Senator, because the party’s super-tight margin remains in the Senate. Specifically, the margin that leads to a tie vote if every Democrat sticks together. This requires the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to tip things over the edge into the narrowest of wins.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.