If President-elect Joe Biden gets his way, you could be getting a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks. But Americans will still have to wait for Congress to act, and it’s unclear when that might happen.
With the networks calling it for Biden, you may be wondering, will you get a second check soon? How much would Biden’s plan give you? That’s unclear. However, Biden does have a plan that supports a second round of stimulus checks for Americans, according to CNET. Biden’s plan doesn’t define the amount and doesn’t say what the guidelines would be for getting a check, although Republicans and Democrats have previously voiced general agreement that a second stimulus check should be similar to the first — $1,200 per eligible adult — but with expansion to include more adult dependents, like college students who were left out of the first round.
Here’s the problem: The president can’t get his plan through on his own, whether he’s Donald Trump, who hasn’t conceded the election, or Joe Biden, for whom the networks have called the race. That’s because the Constitution gives funding authority to the U.S. Senate and House, and the Senate remains, at least for now, in Republican hands. That means any Democratic plan would first have to get through the Democrat-led House — which should be fairly simple with a Democratic president — and then to make it through Republicans in the Senate. Trump is also on the record as favoring another round of stimulus checks.
Here’s what you need to know:
Whether You Get a Direct Payment Could Hinge on 2 Senate Runoff Elections
The problem is that Republicans in the Senate have sharply disagreed with Democrats in Congress and even their own White House with Trump in power. It’s the overall price tag of a second plan that’s in contention; Democrats want about $2.2. trillion, of which stimulus checks would be one part. Republicans settled for around $500 million, which was even less than the Trump White House wanted.
“We think the base case is a fiscal stimulus package of around $1 trillion,” Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius told Yahoo.
The key for Democrats may be winning control of the U.S. Senate. This remains possible, as control of the Senate is hanging by a thread, but right now it’s 48-48 with Senate races in Alaska and North Carolina still not called. Two Georgia Senate races could make the difference, according to The Associated Press.
In Georgia, if a candidate doesn’t get 50% of the vote, it goes to a runoff election between the top two candidates. That’s what happened on November 3. The runoff election will be held on January 5.
Biden’s Plan Would Also Boost Unemployment Benefits
In addition to a second round of stimulus checks, Biden’s plan would also boost extra unemployment benefits, according to CNET. Again, it doesn’t specify an amount.
Initially after the pandemic began, people who lost their jobs received an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits on top of their state benefits. However, this expired, and Trump approved an extension at a lower amount in a controversial use of federal power.
The extra benefits then expired. Some Republicans in the Senate have argued that the $600 figure is too high because it gives people too much of an incentive not to work.
According to CNET, Biden did spell out another payment. He wants to give Social Security recipients an extra $200 monthly.
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