U.S. President-elect Joe Biden at a drive-in rally in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The push for $2,000 stimulus checks just got stronger.
President-elect Joe Biden unveiled his stimulus plan in a speech on Thursday night that includes sending additional $1,400 payments to Americans following the $600 second stimulus checks that were recently deployed.
“We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most,” Biden said. “The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough.”
The payments will help those who have to choose between paying the rent or putting food on the table, he said. But it will also help those who are still working and facing higher health risks.
“$2,000 is going to go a long way to ease that pain,” Biden said.
Biden’s move comes after disagreements on both sides of the aisle in Congress led lawmakers to abandon efforts to pass $2,000 checks in December. Instead, they stuck with sums of $600 per person, half the amount of the first $1,200 stimulus checks.
But many lawmakers, including Biden, still think higher payments are needed.
Some believe the next checks should be even larger. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said she thinks the next checks should be $2,000, instead of $1,400, per person.
More people could be eligible for payments under Biden’s plan, according to an outline released before the president-elect’s speech.
The $600 payments included children under age 17 in families who qualified for the money. Biden wants to expand the payments to include all adult dependents.
As with the $600 payments, mixed status households, where one spouse does not have a valid Social Security number, would also be eligible under Biden’s plan. In those families, spouses and children with Social Security numbers would qualify.
The outline of Biden’s plan also said the incoming administration wants to make sure the Treasury Department has “flexibility and resources” to get checks to families who still haven’t received their first stimulus checks, as well as others in need.
“The big determining factor on when folks would see that top up really comes down to how long it takes something like this to get through Congress,” said Garrett Watson, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation.
It may take a couple of months for lawmakers to come to an agreement on another relief package, he said. The new administration will want to get more aid approved in its first 100 days, and stimulus checks will be a high priority with that.
Once Congress approves more checks, qualifying individuals and families who have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS could get the money very quickly, Watson said.
As with the previous direct payments, those who receive the money by paper check or debit card could face longer waits.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.