It now appears that the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department are in the final weeks of disbursing the remaining 14 percent of the $1,400 coronavirus stimulus checks under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
Fully aware that the third round of stimulus is nearing the end, millions of financially wounded Americans have become more vocal about the need for a fourth or even a fifth round of stimulus checks.
Take note that Congress has already approved the delivery of three stimulus cash payments to most Americans—a $1,200 check in the spring of 2020, $600 in December, and the current $1,400 payments under Biden’s $1.9 trillion legislation.
Earlier this month during a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about future stimulus payments. She was mostly noncommittal but did not directly rule out the checks.
“We’ll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free,” Psaki said.
And what Thursday’s jobless claims revealed is that perhaps America has already turned the corner economically, which doesn’t bode well for another round of direct payments.
According to the Labor Department, the number of Americans heading to the unemployment line fell last week, with jobless claims hitting a new pandemic-era low of four hundred forty-four thousand. The total figure represented a decline from the previous week’s four hundred seventy-eighty thousand. During the same period last year, the number sat at more than 2.3 million.
There are, however, plenty of Washington lawmakers and ordinary citizens who are still calling for more stimulus.
Earlier this week, six members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent off a letter to Biden, again pushing him to include recurring direct payments in his American Families Plan.
“The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need certainty in a crisis,” the letter stated. “They deserve to know they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
In late March, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden and Democratic colleagues noted that “while we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families.”
And as far back as January, Rep. Ilhan Omar contended that low-income Americans deserve more financial assistance amid the health crisis.
“A one-time payment of $2,000 is simply not enough,” she said in a statement.
“The American people are counting on us to deliver transformative change, and we need to meet the moment by delivering monthly payments of $2,000,” she added.
In addition, such demands for $2,000 recurring monthly checks have become the focal point of a Change.org petition that has garnered more than 2.2 million signatures.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.