Third stimulus check for $2,000 plans full steam ahead amid impeachment chaos


President-elect Joe Biden supports third stimulus check, but there’s conflict brewing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With momentum growing to remove President Donald Trump from office by invoking the 25th Amendment and a simultaneous impeachment process poised to begin (here’s how to watch Wednesday’s live impeachment vote), it’s a wonder top US leaders have any breath left at all for a third stimulus check that could deliver up to $2,000 apiece.

Yet on Tuesday, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader-designate, once again vowed to make another COVID-19 relief package a top priority, with a larger stimulus check to go with it.

“We will get that done,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues, according to multiple reports. With a newly Democrat-led Senate, Schumer is counting on pushing the legislation through.

What isn’t clear — and won’t be until more of the next package takes form — is if lawmakers will attempt to approve a third stimulus check for $2,000 per person, or a check for up to $1,400 per eligible adult, a figure that would “raise” the $600 second stimulus check maximum to $2,000.

President-elect Joe Biden appears to back the $2,000 stimulus check in its entirety. “$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying rent or putting food on the table. We need $2,000 stimulus checks,” Biden tweeted Jan. 10.

One possible objector could be Senate Democrat Joe Manchin, who expressed concern multiple times about the cost of a third stimulus check and suggested the financial aid could be better focused on those most in need of the money.

“Absolutely not. No. Getting people vaccinated, that’s job No. 1,” Manchin, a centrist from West Virginia, told The Washington Post on Jan. 8 when asked about more stimulus payments. “How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”

Shortly after, Manchin appeared to have softened his stance. According to NBC News, Manchin’s spokesperson said he was “open” to hearing President-elect Joe Biden’s case for a $2,000 stimulus check, but prioritizes vaccine distribution. Funding to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine is also on Biden’s agenda for a large stimulus bill. Manchin repeated his views Jan. 10.

With the Senate evenly divided and incoming Vice President-elect Kamala Harris set to act as a tiebreaker, opposition from just one Democratic senator could sink the party’s hopes for a large third stimulus check.

“The price tag will be high,” Biden said Jan. 8 in a press conference. “We need more direct relief flowing to families, small businesses, including finishing the job of getting people that $2,000 relief direct payment,” he said.

Here’s everything we know about a third stimulus check so far. Biden is expected to spell out more of his stimulus package on Thursday, as well as after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The momentum for a $2,000 stimulus check

The IRS may have already finished sending most of the second stimulus checks for up to $600 apiece (track your payment here and calculate your total here), but Washington leaders are already haggling over a $2,000 third stimulus check. The calls for a $2,000 cap per eligible adult pick up where Trump, congressional Democrats and a few outspoken Republicans left off trying to raise the $600 ceiling on the second stimulus check to $2,000.

With Democrats preparing to swear in two Georgia senators and take the majority by a hair, the party will control Congress and the presidency, making it easier for Biden to pass his objectives despite projected resistance from Senate Republicans.

Biden had already made it clear he supports a third stimulus check, but before last week, had shied away from committing to a sum. In his early presidential campaign, he had suggested a $1,200 stimulus check, modeled on the first, but more recently, he left the question open.

“This bill is just the first step, a down payment,” Biden said Dec. 22 in the last days of negotiation over the second stimulus check. When asked by a reporter if a future package would contain the third stimulus check and how much money he would seek, Biden said, “That’s a negotiating issue… But it will, yes, it will.”

It now appears that the introduction of a $2,000 per person upper limit in a serious way, and confidence of a Democratic Senate, have emboldened Biden to push for the larger sum.

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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


How a third stimulus check could bring you more money

A $600 check is, obviously, half the $1,200 from 2020, so, yes, recipients get less money per household. But there’s more to it than that. Since the upper limit for a second check is $600 per adult, with an extra $600 per child dependent, the way the IRS’ formula works out, more people hit the upper income limit for receiving a second payment, which means they won’t actually qualify to get any stimulus money at all.

A third stimulus check could:

Here are other ways a third stimulus check could put more money in your pocket.

Other funding a new stimulus bill could provide

We already know some of Biden’s objectives for a new stimulus package, which he shared as part of his presidential campaign trail. There’s a good chance that he’d push Congress to revisit those agenda items, in addition to several programs left out of December’s $900 billion bill by both Republicans and Democrats.

They could include measures like:

  • A larger third stimulus check that could reach more people.
  • Larger federal unemployment checks past March.
  • Renewing the eviction ban past Jan. 31.
  • Student loan deferrals or forgiveness for public schools.
  • More money for state, local and tribal governments.
  • More money for contact tracing, coronavirus testing and COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
  • Liability protection for businesses against coronavirus-related lawsuits.

For more information, here’s how to calculate your second stimulus check paymentwho may not qualify for a check and a primer on the five different priority groups.


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