Relief Payments Delays

FILE - In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. The U.S. Treasury and IRS have sent out the bulk of the second economic impact payments, which are intended to provide some relief to Americans. However, frustration is high among millions of people who did not receive payments yet and must wait for the mail or file their taxes before they receive it.

The first round of coronavirus stimulus checks was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump last March.

Almost a year later, talks are already underway about a third payment after the second one, which was worth $600, already has been sent to or is expected to reach millions of Americans by the end of this week.

Those who were hoping to get at least the maximum $1,200 payment for single filers or $2,400 for joint filers that came out during the spring of 2020 were disappointed by the political wrangling that ended with a hotly-debated coronavirus economic relief package that was finally signed into law in late December but included just the $600, however. But, there is reason to think that whatever President-elect Joe Biden and members of the U.S. House and Senate draw up next will include more money for eligible Americans.

Two big question remains on that front, however. First, while Trump and some members on both sides of the political aisle wanted the $600 payment to instead be $2,000, the issue now focuses on whether a third payment would be that full amount or instead just $1,400, which when added to the $600 already out would equal $2,000, of course. Then, there is the matter of timing.

“Democrats wanted to do much more in the last bill and promised to do much more, given the opportunity, to increase direct payments to a total of $2,000,” Democrat Chuck Schumer, who is expected to be the Majority Leader in the Senate, said recently. “We will get that done.”

As for how quickly a third round of checks, payments, direct deposits, or prepaid debit cards could go out, it’s not unreasonable to think that Biden and a Democrat-controlled legislature could rush to get more money out shortly after he is sworn into office next week.

That said, March might be the month to watch closely if not, as three key unemployment measures — the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation — all expire on March 14, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In other words, if those programs aren’t extended as part of a larger economic legislative package by then, they will likely be, and any debate about those would almost certainly include talk about stimulus payments, as well.

“My priority is to get, first and foremost, a stimulus bill passed and secondly, again to rebuild the economy,” Biden said recently, according to AL.com.


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