US CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS MEASURES

The next round of US stimulus checks: Who will be eligible and how much will they receive?

The Democrats have already given first approval to the legislation that will release this second tranche of funding, despite opposition from Republicans who want to lower the payments

US President Joe Biden in a file photo.
US President Joe Biden in a file photo.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The United States Congress is currently in negotiations to launch a new Covid economic rescue package worth $1.9 trillion, and which will include the third round of stimulus checks for $1,400 destined for the sections of the population left most vulnerable by the devastation wrought by the pandemic.

According to the draft law, from the second half of March, the checks will be sent to anyone signed up with the Social Security system who has declared annual income on a scale that goes from $100,000 to $200,000. The proposal, which has been advanced by Democratic Party lawmakers and President Joe Biden, will also see the benefits received by the highest earners gradually reduced.

Who qualifies for the third stimulus check?

According to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives, the check will be sent to anyone with a Social Security number who qualifies. The stimulus will cover households with children and adults with disabilities and dependents. Tax returns filed in recent years will be a parameter used to determine whether or not a citizen is eligible for this benefit payment.

Neal announced that the Committee has also considered marginal proposals, such as the extension of jobless benefits or the possibility of increasing the allowance based on the number of children each family house. “Our nation is fighting, the virus is still not contained, and the people of America anticipate that Congress can handle this moment with bold, immediate action,” the chairman said via a statement.

How much money will recipients get?

The limit per person will be an additional $1,400 on top of the $600 that was sent as part of the stimulus package agreed at the end of last year. The total can rise to $2,800 for couples who file a joint tax return. Also, the maximum amount will be paid out to families for each child aged under 17, as well as for each dependent or disabled adult who qualifies for the stimulus.

Who is eligible to receive a check?

Anyone who declares income of $100,000 or less as an individual taxpayer will be part of the program, as well as those who declare $150,000 if they are the head of the household, and married couples who file joint returns with income of $200,000 and under.

How likely is the law to prosper in Congress?

The initiative had been put on hold both in the House of Representatives and the Senate due to the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump. The Republican was eventually absolved by lawmakers for his role in the attack on the Capitol perpetrated by his supporters on January 6. Congress is now expected to make progress on this new package of state aid by the end of February.

The Democrats have already given the first approval to the legislation without the need for Republican support, meaning that the process of a budgetary report is already underway. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has said that Congress has the maximum time frame of a month to turn the proposal into law, and thus avoid some citizens exhausting the jobless benefits they currently have, something that will happen on March 14.

If this happens, it is possible that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will start to send checks to those who meet the criteria. While there is an urgency to start the first payments, the distribution process may take even longer than forecast – currently, the Treasury Department is still delivering some of the checks from the first round of the process back in 2020.

What changes does the Republican Party want?

Members of the Republican Party, which is now in opposition, have expressed their disagreement with the cost that the stimulus package will have for the state. While they are not seeking to prevent the checks from being sent to the most-affected citizens, they want to reduce the total of the individual payouts to $1,000. President Biden has made clear to congressional Democrats that the benefits are not an issue that is up for negotiation.

Congress is drawing upon the political resource of budgetary reconciliation to accelerate the approval process for this law. This limits the time that the Senate usually takes to debate statutes that involve the federal budget. What’s more, with this instrument only a simple majority is required – i.e. 51 votes, rather than the 60 stipulated by legislative rules.

Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, and the Senate is equally split with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

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