Stimulus Update: Yesterday Was an Important Day in Congress. What Does It Mean for the Prospect of New Stimulus Checks?

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KEY POINTS

  • The 118th Congress kicked off on Tuesday Jan. 3, 2023.
  • Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.
  • This affects the likelihood of another stimulus check.


Anyone hoping for more stimulus money should pay attention to what happened in Congress yesterday.

On Tuesday Jan. 3, 2023, a new Congress was sworn in. Both newly elected Congress members and incumbents took their oaths of office, with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives while the Democrats retained control of the Senate.

With the new Congress now in place, the big question on many people's minds is whether stimulus checks are on the table in this upcoming legislative session. If you're hoping for more money in your bank account from the federal government, it's worth considering the implications of yesterday's important day.

Are stimulus checks on the table in the 118th Congress?

Stimulus checks originally enjoyed bipartisan support. Both Democrats and Republicans voted together to provide the initial direct payments during the heart of the pandemic.

But, as time went on, this consensus eroded. And when President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law shortly after taking office, the legislation had been passed with the support of Democrats alone.

At the time, Democrats were in control of the White House, but they also had a small majority in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

With the Democrats losing this unified control of Congress after Republicans took the majority in the House when new members were sworn in on Jan. 3, the chances of a stimulus check dimmed.

It is very unlikely that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives would provide the votes needed for a fourth stimulus check -- or even allow a bill authorizing one to come up for a vote.

All hope isn't lost though

While another direct payment that's broadly available to most Americans is unlikely, there's still a chance the federal government could step up and offer some new financial support. This most likely would come in the form of an expanded Child Tax Credit for parents.

The most recent COVID-19 legislation provided payments up to $3,600 per child under age 6 to eligible parents, and payments up to $3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 for eligible families as well. Republicans were not on board with this specifically, although this Child Tax Credit was a key Democratic priority.

Some Republicans have indicated they believe the current Child Tax Credit system should be modified, though, and that parents should receive more direct aid.

Since this may be one of few areas where there is an overlap of goals on the left and right, there remains a chance that parents at least will see some extra help from Uncle Sam now that the 118th Congress has kicked off.

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