Fourth stimulus check: What’s the chance of another direct payment?

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As most Americans receive their third stimulus check, many people still struggling with the toll of the pandemic are wondering if a fourth direct payment is possible. While that’s certainly not out of the question, especially as COVID cases inch upward nationally, it seems highly unlikely.

President Joe Biden’s latest $2.3 trillion economic plan centers around infrastructure with no direct payments for Americans. Instead, the administration believes the money will benefit the economy through hundreds of construction projects across the nation.

Some progressive senators feel direct payments should be added to the plan — and not just one-time payments. Last week, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden calling for recurring payments.

“We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan,” the letter read.

The lawmakers say the pandemic is far from over and Americans need to be assured they’ll be able to feed and house their loved ones.

“Families should not be at the mercy of constantly-shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions,” the lawmakers wrote.

The senators did not mention specifics like the size and frequency of the payments. Names on the letter included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand.

A recent poll from Data for Progress found 65% of Americans support the idea of recurring $2,000 payments throughout the pandemic. While that survey may have shown support, the plan isn’t likely to find much in a gridlocked Washington.  

One big problem for a plan like this: there’s aren’t enough voices in the middle speaking out in support of another round of relief. For that reason, many experts believe it’s just not possible.

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

Biden didn’t have an easy time pushing his last relief bill through Congress with Republicans arguing it was simply too much spending. Democrats barely advanced the measure through a process that allowed them to pass the legislation with simple majorities.

The government has issued three direct payments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. About a year ago, the government sent $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans through the CARES Act. In late 2020, the government approved payments of $600 per person. That was followed up by the third stimulus payment of $1,400.

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