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Biden stimulus update: What the new president and Senate could mean for third checks

Happy Inauguration Day! Next comes your $1,400 stimulus check from Joe. Maybe.

Biden stimulus update: What the new president and Senate could mean for third checks
[Photo: Giorgio Trovato/Unsplash]
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Joe Biden is launching his presidency with an approval-ratings elixir: $1,400 stimulus checks for all. What stands between that proposed check and your bank account? A lot. Will you get one? And when? Read on.

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What’s the situation here?

Last week, Biden proposed the American Rescue Plan relief package, which in addition to direct payments to Americans in the form of $1,400 stimulus checks, includes endless chunks of funding for Congresspeople to squabble over, such as $30 billion in rental assistance, $20 billion in transit funding, and $170 billion in school reopening support. But most Americans have their eyes on those $1,400 stimulus checks.

How much will my check actually be?

The full amount is for people who earn less than $75,000 (or $150,000 for married couples). If you earn more than that, you’ll get less. This colorful line chart from the Tax Foundation (three paragraphs down) helps you see your situation at a glance.

Is the $1,400 figure definite?

Nothing’s definite! This is America in 2021. Both sides of the aisle support stimulus checks for coronavirus relief, and economic distress is on the upswing, so $1,400 checks may well hold, or they may even go higher: Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have pushed for $2,000 checks. Anything could happen, though.

When’s the money coming?

Ask Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader after Wednesday. Congress needs to pass a relief bill, and McConnell’s track record is not one of speed: As majority leader last year, he repeatedly postponed, even as millions of Americans faced financial peril, leading to an epic nine-month process to pass a second relief package with stimulus checks.

Why can’t they just pass the bill ASAP?

Republicans will likely wheel and deal to decrease the $1.9 trillion price tag, and they hold some power here: The bill will likely require 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate. (Sixty votes are needed to clear the Senate. After today, Democrats and Republicans will each hold 50 seats.) Wheeling and dealing takes time. But unlike last year, when gridlock reigned, Democrats will now lead the House, Senate, and White House, so things will move a wee bit faster, but expect a month or two, not weeks. Then payment disbursement takes a few weeks. Stay tuned.