Democrats Unveil Plan for New Quarterly Stimulus Checks

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  • With gas prices rising, Democrats want to provide quarterly stimulus payments.
  • Income limits for receiving stimulus money would mirror those of last year's checks.

Will more stimulus money soon be in your pocket?

On March 10, a group of Democrats introduced legislation that would provide more stimulus money for Americans. Like the payments authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021, these payments would likely go directly into American's bank accounts. The money would be sent out quarterly, aiming to help people cope with rising gas costs.

Americans would see more stimulus money if this bill passes

The legislation providing more stimulus money was introduced on March 10 by Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. It is cosponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, and Sherrod Brown.

The proposed bill would impose a new tax on large oil companies. The tax would equal 50% of the difference between what a barrel of oil costs today, and the average price of a barrel of oil between 2015 and 2019. The money collected would then fund stimulus payments.

The stimulus money would go to individual tax filers with incomes under $75,000, and married joint filers with incomes under $150,000. Based on current pricing, the payments would total around $240 per year for single filers and $360 annually for married joint filers.

The legislation is meant to address rapidly rising gas prices -- the average cost per gallon reached $4.31 the day the bill was introduced, and price increases are expected to continue, with a new ban on Russian oil imports in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

No matter the uncertainty overseas, the bill's sponsors blame the price increases on the oil companies voluntarily raising prices to drive the record profits they have recently made. The hope, according to Rep. Khanna, is that oil companies will respond to the new tax by reducing the price of fuel.

"The bigger thing is that it's going to save everyone money," she said. "If you're big oil, and you look at this, you're not going to want to pay this tax, and so you're going to be willing to lower prices."

Is it likely that the new stimulus bill will pass?

Despite support from prominent Democratic representatives and senators, the odds of this new stimulus legislation passing aren't very high. Republicans did not support the American Rescue Plan Act that authorized last year's stimulus payments. And lawmakers on the right have largely opposed tax hikes, so are unlikely to support this one.

With no Republicans on board, Democrats would need unified support among members of their party in order to pass legislation. And they would need to use a procedural maneuver called reconciliation if a Republican filibuster prevented the bill from moving forward. Some of the more conservative lawmakers on the left have been reluctant in recent months to provide more stimulus relief via reconciliation, and are thus unlikely to embrace this new plan.

Still, with continued economic turmoil and rising prices, politicians may take some action to help -- and this bill offers one possible solution.

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