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Is A Fourth Stimulus Check Likely? Biden Says Payments Are ‘making a difference’

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President Joe Biden says the third round of stimulus checks, currently being distributed by the IRS, provided a financial lifeline to people who are still struggling as the pandemic maintains its grip on American life.

“We’ve already sent more than 160 million checks out the door. It’s making a difference,” the president told Congress in his big speech last Wednesday night. “For many people, it’s making all the difference in the world.”

Does that mean Biden wants the relief to continue? Lawmakers, advocates and millions of citizens are urging him to have the tax agency send a fourth stimulus check, and maybe additional ones beyond that.

Here’s where things stand.

Biden: Stimulus checks ‘put food on the table’

In his speech, the president cited a few examples of how the latest stimulus checks, for up to $1,400 each, have been providing critical support for American households.

He said a grandmother in Virginia told him the cash allowed her to run her granddaughter to the eye doctor, something they’d been putting off for months.

“A single mom in Texas who wrote me, she said she couldn’t work,” Biden said, sharing another anecdote. “She said the relief check put food on the table and saved her and her son from eviction from their apartment.”

That’s been a familiar story all along. The first stimulus checks, sent one year ago, were largely spent on basic necessities like groceries and rent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found.

Some people have been able to save or invest the money, the bureau has said, or use it for other spending that likely has included buying affordable life insurance. Demand for policies has surged amid the pandemic.

The push for a fourth stimulus check — and more

The audience for Biden’s speech included members of his own party who’ve been telling him the need for stimulus checks isn’t over.

The president faces intense pressure from dozens of congressional Democrats, as well as from various advocacy groups, to consider a fourth stimulus check — as the first of recurring cash payments until the pandemic finally loosens its grip on the U.S. economy.

“Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead as the country continues to fight a global pandemic,” said a letter sent to Biden in recent weeks from more than 20 U.S. senators who want to see regular payments until the crisis ends.

Additionally, more than 2 million citizens have now signed an online petition calling for new $2,000 stimulus checks for adults and $1,000 payments for kids, followed by regular checks for as long as the pandemic lasts.

“We need immediate checks and recurring payments so that we can keep our heads above water,” the petition reads. “Congress needs to make sure that we won’t be left financially ruined for doing our part to keep the country healthy.”

Will Biden come out in favor of a fourth check?

Biden’s positive words about stimulus checks in his speech to Congress may suggest he’s open to providing another round, but so far he hasn’t addressed that issue directly.

Instead, he’s been proposing other relief. For example, he wants to stretch out a temporary expansion of the child tax credit that will give families monthly payments — sort of another kind of stimulus checks — for up to $300 per child during the second half of this year.

He told Congress he wants to extend the new credit at least through the 2025. “That will help more than 65 million children and help cut child care poverty in half,” Biden said.

It’s possible he’s stayed away from addressing questions about a fourth stimulus check because he wants to avoid political fireworks. Republicans and even some congressional Democrats questioned whether the third direct payments were necessary, and eligibility was “targeted” away from higher earners.

The president already is facing other potentially major battles: He’s seeking approval from Congress for nearly $4 trillion in new spending, for an infrastructure package and his “families plan,” and he wants to pay for those fresh parts of his agenda by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

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