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Fourth stimulus check: Lawmakers press Biden to say yes to more payments

The president is being urged to roll more direct aid money into his infrastructure bill.

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'Families shouldn't have to worry'

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Millions of Americans are still in financial distress, with about 4 in 10 saying their income remains below its prepandemic levels, according to a recent survey from the credit bureau TransUnion.

Back in January, 56 House Democrats led by Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar sent Biden a letter urging him to consider recurring stimulus payments.

“We are experiencing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with millions of Americans either unemployed, forced out of the workforce or facing a decline in hours and wages,” the letter said.

And at the end of March, 21 Democratic senators joined the chorus of voices calling for more payments. "Families shouldn’t have to worry about whether they’ll have enough money to pay for essentials in the months ahead," the senators wrote Biden in a separate letter.

Many households have used stimulus money to cover basic expenses, like groceries and rent, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study of how last year's very first checks were spent.

Once those needs were met, some of the cash was used for saving and investing, the bureau found, or for other expenses that may have included buying affordable life insurance. Demand for those policies has surged during the pandemic.

New checks face major obstacles

Support for more stimulus checks is far from universal. Last month, the Democrats who control Congress struggled to push through Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID rescue package, which provided $1,400 stimulus checks and many other benefits.

The bill passed with simple majorities using a streamlined process that required no support from Republicans — who all voted no.

Even moderate members of the Democratic party weren’t in agreement about the need for the third round of payments, so there may not be enough political support for further stimulus checks.

“I think it’s unlikely at this time,” Raymond James analyst Ed Mills tells CNBC.

Another reason not to hold out hope is that the Biden’s administration has turned its focus to other priorities, including the massive infrastructure bill. So far, the White House hasn't commented on whether relief payments might be included.

But that's looking less and less likely, with more Americans getting vaccinated by the day. The stock market is hitting new highs, hiring is booming, and life appears to be on its way back to normal — lessening the perception of the need for more economic stimulus.

What to do if you need money right now

David Prado Perucha / Shutterstock

If you can’t wait for lawmakers to decide whether to send out more stimulus checks and you need cash ASAP, you have some options.

About the Author

Sigrid Forberg

Staff Writer

Sigrid is a staff writer with MoneyWise. A graduate of Carleton University's journalism program, she spent the better part of the last six years writing about business and retail. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking and riding her bicycle.

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