by Christy Bieber | Jan. 13, 2021
For weeks, Democratic lawmakers have discussed the idea of providing $2,000 stimulus checks in the next coronavirus relief bill they hope to pass. In fact, they campaigned on this issue in a recent Georgia Senate race that delivered control of the upper chamber to the Democrats. And both President-elect Joe Biden and future Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have indicated that authorizing these checks will be the first priority of the incoming administration.
But a letter Senator Schumer sent to his Democratic colleagues on Thursday suggests these $2,000 payments may not be quite what they seemed at first glance.
Based on Schumer's comments, it's more likely the next stimulus payment deposited into your bank account will be for $1,400 rather than the $2,000 you may have been expecting. Here's why.
While the Democrats' likely plan to authorize a $1,400 direct payment will probably come as a surprise to those who have been hearing lawmakers talk for weeks about $2,000 checks, Schumer's words to his colleagues make clear where the confusion comes from.
"As you know from our work at the end of the last Congress, the job of COVID emergency relief is far from complete," Schumer wrote. "Democrats wanted to do much more in the last bill and promised to do more, if given the opportunity, to increase direct payments to a total of $2,000 -- we will get that done."
The two key words there are "increase" and "total."
See, a $900 billion COVID relief bill already passed Congress and was signed into law by President Donald Trump at the end of December. That bill included $600 stimulus payments for each eligible adult and dependent child.
Democrats -- and President Trump -- argued at the time that $600 wasn't enough, and Trump urged Congress to provide $2,000 checks. The Democrats then passed a measure in the House to increase the payment from $600 to $2,000. This wasn't taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate, however, so it was an unsuccessful effort.
Although the left didn't end up getting the checks increased to $2,000, the $600 payments that passed in the COVID relief bill started going out shortly after the legislation was signed. And they must be delivered by Jan. 15, 2021.
That means most Americans already received $600 of the $2,000 in total that Democrats wanted to provide. So when leaders on the left tout their support for $2,000 checks, it appears they aren't talking about another $2,000 on top of the $600 being distributed already. They're intending to provide an additional $1,400 so people get a total of $2,000.
While this may come as a disappointment to struggling Americans who were hoping to get an additional $2,000, a smaller third stimulus check might be an easier sell for conservative Democrats, some of whom have expressed reluctance to authorize billions of dollars in additional payments. It could also help to reduce the price tag of the coronavirus relief bill Democrats plan to put forth, which may slightly increase the chances the bill will get bipartisan support.
Of course, there's no guarantee that Democrats will be successful in getting a bill to the desk of the incoming president that provides any additional stimulus funds. But with powerful voices on the left calling for more relief and Biden making this a key issue, the odds are very good that at least some additional money will soon be on the way.
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