President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 in early March. The first major piece of legislation to pass in the Biden era, the measure marked the third law since the start of the pandemic to mandate stimulus checks for Americans, with the Rescue Plan distributing $1,400 checks to most Americans.
Could there be a fourth round of stimulus checks? A group of Democratic members of Congress is calling for just that.
“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan. This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Families should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” the letter stated.
The authors included Ron Wyden of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Alex Padilla of California, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Michael Bennett of Colorado, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
The arguments of the letter include the idea that recurring payments and enhanced unemployment benefits work well together, that the two types of payments are “among the most effective forms of relief available,” and that direct payments are very popular among the general public. The senators cited polling showing that 65 percent of Americans support recurring cash payments for the duration of the pandemic, including majorities of Republicans and independents.
“As you prepare your Build Back Better plan for long-term economic recovery, know that we are ready to work with you in support of recurring direct checks and extended unemployment insurance benefits to support Americans who are still struggling during the pandemic,” the letter concluded.
Per CNBC, Biden introduced his $2 trillion Build Back Better plan in Pittsburgh last Wednesday. Biden’s plan includes that amount of money, over eight years, including $621 billion worth of transportation infrastructure, $400 billion for elder care, $300 billion for drinking water infrastructure, another $300 for affordable housing, and $580 to support American manufacturing.
Biden did not announce direct checks last week, but he did say he will unveil the second part of the package “in a few weeks.” And some amount of negotiation with Congress is likely should the measure pass the narrowly divided Congress.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.