White House Press Secretary Makes Clear Stimulus Checks Are No Longer a Priority
by Christy Bieber | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on June 4, 2021
The Biden administration won't be pushing for a fourth stimulus check.
When President Joe Biden campaigned for the presidency, one of his signature campaign promises was a $1,400 stimulus check. The president delivered, signing the American Rescue Plan Act into law in March and authorizing a third stimulus payment to follow the first two that were issued under the Trump administration.
Biden was able to move quickly to provide the most recent stimulus payment because it had broad support on the left -- and stimulus checks are very popular among the public.
But despite a number of Democrats and millions of Americans calling for a fourth check, the Biden administration has now made clear that fighting for another direct payment is not a priority.
Biden has other ideas for getting Americans back to work
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained the White House's position on stimulus checks.
"He's happy to hear from a range of ideas on what would be most effective and what's most important to the economy moving forward," Psaki said. "But he's also proposed what he thinks is going to be the most effective for the short term for putting people back to work, to getting through this pivotal period of time, and also to making us more competitive in the long term."
Those plans Psaki referred to include the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. Among other things, these plans invest in infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
But despite several Democrats urging the president to include stimulus checks in his latest plans, the White House has declined to do so. And cost is likely one of the main reasons why. In fact, when asked about additional direct payments earlier in the month, Psaki said Biden hadn't ruled them out, but that the price may be too high. "We'll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free," she said.
Biden is already struggling to get Republicans on board with either of his most recent proposals, and one of the key sticking points relates to the price and scope of the legislation. Since Republicans were opposed to the third stimulus check and already believe that the administration's infrastructure and jobs plans are too costly, adding stimulus checks into the mix would likely only put a deal further out of reach.
While Democrats could move forward on legislation without support from the right, their options to do so are limited. Republicans control 50 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and can filibuster legislation, which would mean that it's stopped in its tracks without 60 votes to advance.
Although Democrats can use a process called reconciliation to pass bills that can't be filibustered, they'd need unanimous support among the 50 senators who caucus with them -- and Vice President Kamala Harris would need to cast a tie-breaking vote. But there's a limit to the number of times this procedural maneuver can be used. And some of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate are pushing for bipartisan legislation, rather than a bill passed through reconciliation along party lines.
It's not clear if a bipartisan deal will happen or if a bill can get through reconciliation. But in either case, the chances an additional stimulus check will be included are very small -- especially with Psaki making clear that Biden believes there are better ways to help American families besides sending more cash payments to their bank accounts.
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