It’s time to stop worrying about whether congressional leaders will ever get on the same page when it comes to the issuance of a new stimulus check, in what would be a fourth wave of coronavirus relief payments. Because the fact of the matter is, whether they’re called that or not, it’s looking increasingly like millions of Americans will be getting new direct payments because of the pandemic soon.
Take, for example, the fact that millions of families are going to start getting monthly stimulus checks from the IRS beginning in July as part of the expanded federal child tax credit made possible by the $1.9 trillion stimulus legislation President Biden signed in March. It will give families with children up to age 17 an annual benefit of $3,000 (split into monthly checks) for each child between 6 and 17, and $3,600 for each child under the age of 6. New payments will also be forthcoming soon thanks to a pot of money also made possible by the stimulus legislation — and which has received pretty scant media coverage.
It’s called the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund. Basically, states, counties, and cities will get a tranche of money from this pot of funds, and they’ll be allowed to distribute it to households that have experienced hardship because of the pandemic.
Here’s what the US Treasury has to say about the pot of money, for which rules were released on Monday: “Local governments will receive funds in two tranches, with 50% provided beginning in May 2021 and the balance delivered approximately 12 months later. States that have experienced a net increase in the unemployment rate of more than 2 percentage points from February 2020 to the latest available data as of the date of certification will receive their full allocation of funds in a single payment; other states will receive funds in two equal tranches.” And that money can be used for any of the following:
To replace lost public sector revenue, as well as to invest in infrastructure related to water, sewer, and broadband. Both of those use cases, by the way, are likely to cause no small amount of consternation among especially Republican governors, who may crow that those uses having nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic, at least not directly. Of course, the money is also allowed to be spent on giving “premium pay” for essential workers, such as by “offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical infrastructure sectors.”
Two other allowable uses of the money include, according to the US Treasury:
- Supporting public health expenditures. By, for example, funding COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical expenses, behavioral healthcare, and certain public health and safety staff.
- And “addressing negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency.” Which can include “economic harms to workers, households, small businesses, impacted industries, and the public sector.”