President-elect Joe Biden has made one thing clear: the US needs another stimulus bill, and soon. Biden has spoken out about certain measures more than others, but above all, the incoming president has stressed his position that more stimulus aid should come before his Jan. 20 inauguration, and before the final COVID-19 relief measures expire on Dec. 31. If a bill doesn’t pass by the time he’s sworn in, here are some things he can do for stimulus.
Congress began its Thanksgiving recess without a deal in place and won’t be back in session until Nov. 30. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will begin negotiations soon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Nov. 19. To avoid a government shutdown, the two political parties must pass more funding by Dec. 11, though it seems no stimulus aid will piggyback on the bill for government funding.
One position that isn’t completely clear is how strongly Biden feels about a second stimulus check. Although he had backed it during his presidential campaign (more on that below) and does advocate for Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion Heroes Act, which does have a check, Biden’s current economic plan highlights extra unemployment checks for job-seekers and doesn’t mention another direct payment.
There’s currently some question as to whether Biden would support another stimulus package without a second check or try to use his executive influence to try to sway Congress to include another direct payment for up to $1,200 per adult. (If a stimulus bill passes without a check, here are other ways you could benefit from the package.)
Biden has appointed a COVID-19 task force and laid out his plan to address the effects of the coronavirus pandemic with a new set of strategies that complement a similar plan Biden released during his presidential campaign.
Below, we detail everything Biden may be planning in regard to stimulus payments.
A second round of stimulus checks is a definite possibility
The CARES Act, passed in March, was the first stimulus package intended to help people financially affected by the pandemic. One of the most popular aspects of the act was a stimulus check of up to $1,200 sent out to more than 160 million Americans. That direct aid caused a jump in household spending, helped millions at risk of slipping into poverty and allowed others to save.
Biden’s plan, like the one President Donald Trump has backed, will include more direct stimulus payments, but it doesn’t specify how many or for how much, or if any of the qualifications would change. Democrats and Republicans are currently negotiating for more stimulus relief that would include another round of direct payments, but the clock is ticking to get a bill passed.
Read more: If you want your second stimulus check faster, do this now
Bigger unemployment benefits for job-seekers
COVID-19 lockdowns across cities led to an unprecedented spike in unemployment, with more than 20 million people having lost their jobs back in May. To help those unemployed suddenly, the CARES Act provided a weekly bonus payment of $600 on top of unemployment benefits provided by the states. These extra funds expired at the end of July, and Trump restarted a smaller version of the bonus in August via an executive memo. This temporary relief provided $300 extra for six weeks and has since been exhausted; only a new stimulus package would provide more funds. (Here’s every benefit that dries up if the stimulus isn’t renewed.)
Biden’s plan doesn’t go into specifics about how much funding may be available. It does say a bill would improve unemployment benefits.
More money for monthly Social Security checks
There were no measures to boost Social Security in the CARES Act or in other relief packages since then. Biden’s stimulus plan calls for an additional $200 to be added to the monthly payments that go to Social Security recipients.
Debt forgiveness for federal student loans
Included in the CARES Act was a forbearance for student loans. Individuals who owed money wouldn’t need to make payments or see any interest accrue until “the end of September,” according to Biden’s stimulus vision. If implemented in the future, there would, of course, be a different cutoff date.
Back in August, Trump extended the forbearance until the end of 2020. Biden goes in a different direction, with the president-elect recently saying he supports a loan forgiveness of $10,000 minimum. (In September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat and former presidential candidate, outlined a plan to forgive the federal student loan debt.) Biden’s “Plan for Education Beyond High School” also focuses on student loans, with changes such as enrolling new and existing loans into income-based repayment plans and forgiving the debt after 20 years of repayment.
Other measures Biden has endorsed
Biden’s plan could also include:
- More money for small businesses
- Emergency sick leave for everyone who needs it
- Fiscal relief for states
- No out-of-pocket money for COVID-19 testing, treatment and an eventual vaccine
For more information on the stimulus package situation, read how to calculate your stimulus money, why you might receive an EIP card instead of a check and all the reasons your next check could be bigger.