For Americans, ad-hoc direct payments haven't exactly been life-changing during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they are helpful for the swath of unemployed and financially unstable households in the nation at a time when just about every dollar counts.
Fourth stimulus checks
In a letter to President Biden dated March 30, a group of 21 senators urged the administration to include recurring direct payments rather than one-off checks for Americans.
"While we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families, and we are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6," the senators wrote.
With 100 senators in the U.S., this accounts for 21 percent of the group—by no means a majority, but still a sizable selection. Prior to this, 53 representatives and two-thirds of polled Americans voted in favor of a recurring direct payment worth as much as $2,000 per month.
There isn't a sign of a fourth stimulus check.
Right now, COVID-19 vaccinations are a top priority for the Biden administration. Biden likely views this as a route to economic recovery in itself. As more people get vaccinated, they will be more likely to go out and support businesses. Consumer spending is the backbone of economic movement in the U.S. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70 percent of the GDP. Most of that stems from the retail and service industries.
There's also the American Jobs Plan, which is an infrastructure development plan worth $2 trillion. If passed, it could make a world of difference in the unemployment metrics.
Why we could see a fourth check after October.
Without enough Republican support, Democrats used a governmental tool called reconciliation to pass the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11. Reconciliation favors a simple majority over a 60-vote majority. This tool can only be used once in a fiscal year. For the U.S. government, the fiscal year ends in October, which means Democrats would be able to use this tactic again in the fall or winter.
Stimulus checks are just a portion of the $1.9 trillion rescue plan.
Worth a total of $422 billion, stimulus checks account for 22 percent of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. There's also the child tax credit, which has increased in scope and amount to help lift children out of poverty. The state and local fiscal recovery fund, capital projects, homeowner assistance, emergency rental assistance, small business credit initiatives, unemployment compensation, and a PPP loan specifically for independent contractors are all included.
Stimulus checks might be a shiny distraction, but there's much more for Americans to take advantage of before a fourth EIP comes.