Is Joe Biden pushing for Americans to get $2,000 more in stimulus payments? Not quite.
The president-elect unveiled his $1.9 trillion relief package Thursday, which includes sending out $1,400 checks following the $600 checks that people have been receiving this month.
“We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most,” Biden said in a speech announcing the American Rescue Plan. “The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough.”
Biden is facing some backlash following a statement that the additional checks will be $1,400 on top of the $600, instead of $2000 on top of the $600. During a campaign event ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff elections, the president-elect said “If you send Jon [Ossoff] and the Rev. [Raphael Warnock] to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door, restoring hope and decency and honor for so many people who are struggling right now.”
“$2,000 means $2,000,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. told The Washington Post. “$2,000 does not mean $1,400.”
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo. tweeted “$1,400 ≠ $2,000.”
Still, the additional $1,400 would be welcome for many, especially the millions of Americans still out of work.
What would be the timeline for $1,400 checks?
Biden’s American Rescue Plan would need to make its way through Congress.
Lawmakers debated the size of the stimulus payments in the most recent COVID-19 relief package for months — with some on both sides of the aisle calling for bigger direct payments — before they eventually settled on the $600 that may have already hit your direct deposit. House Democrats passed a standalone bill shortly after to increase those $600 payments to $2,000, but it was rejected by current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Following the Georgia Senate runoff elections, Democrats will take control of Congress, and Biden would likely have the votes he needs to pass the new relief bill. Still, it’s not a done deal: Biden will need support from all the Democrats, or most Democrats and some Republicans in the House, as well as all Democrats plus 10 Republicans in Senate, unless lawmakers use a process called budget reconciliation to pass the package with only a simple majority, CNBC reported. But the exact amount of the stimulus checks, as well as eligibility, could be points of negotiation, and take up time on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s plan also includes funding for vaccine distribution, which Congress may want to move on more quickly than the stimulus payments, Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told Money. So the key question, he adds, is whether stimulus payments will make it into the initial bill. One way Biden might be able to get more lawmakers to agree on the stimulus payments is to adjust the eligibility, Gleckman adds. For example, he could lower the adjusted gross income amount to receive a full payment, which is currently $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples).
There’s also the impeachment process to consider. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol last week. The next step is a Senate trial — but it’s unclear when that will take place. McConnell has indicated that the trial wouldn’t start until Biden takes office. Biden has said he hopes the Senate can “bifurcate” its work, spending half the day on impeachment and half the day on the stimulus package.
If $1,400 additional checks are passed, when would you actually see a third check? It depends. Previous stimulus checks have taken some time to get into the hands of Americans, even after the relief packages they were included in were passed. The IRS continued to make payments included in the package passed in March until Dec. 31, 2020. With the second stimulus checks, the IRS is up against a Jan. 15 deadline to get the payments out.
The president-elect’s plan would also “ensure that the Treasury Department has the flexibility and resources it needs to deliver stimulus checks to the families that need them the most including the millions of families that still haven’t received the $1,200 checks they are entitled to under the CARES Act,” according to an outline released. It would also expand eligibility of the stimulus payments, according to the outline.