The White House indicated this week that it will be up to Congress whether Americans will get a fourth stimulus check. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked Tuesday if another set of direct payments, possibly even recurring checks, could appear in one of President Joe Biden's new proposals -- the American Jobs Plan or the American Families Plan.
"We'll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free," Psaki said.
There have been three direct stimulus payments sent out to most Americans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic if they fell within certain income limits.
- $1,200 per individual, $2,400 per couple plus $500 per child was passed by Congress in March 2020 under the CARES Act.
- $600 per individual, $1,200 per couple plus $600 for dependents was passed in December 2020.
- $1,400 per individual, $2,800 per couple and $1,400 for dependents was passed in March under the American Rescue Plan.
There are signs Americans are interested in more. Google search traffic for terms like "fourth stimulus check" have been high in recent weeks.
There has been a proposal for setting up recurring stimulus payments. Multiple reports in March indicated 50 Democratic members of the House and up to 21 Democratic U.S. Senators signed letters urging President Joe Biden to push for recurring payments to Americans as long as the pandemic continues.
"Unemployment insurance has replaced lost income for millions who have lost their jobs. But millions of others do not qualify for unemployment insurance after seeing their hours reduced, switching to lower-paying jobs, or temporarily leaving the workforce to care for family members during the pandemic," the letter, obtained by Fox News, reads.
"We kept our commitment and we are sending $1,400 rescue checks to 85% of all American households. We’ve already sent more than 160 million checks out the door. It’s making a difference," Biden said, following it up with examples from a couple of Americans who said it helped them pay for much-needed things.
But there was no indication from the speech that Biden planned to introduce another bill with more stimulus checks.
Psaki talked up the expansion of the federal child tax credit which will give parents $3,600 for each child under age 6 in 2021 and $3,000 for each child ages 6-17. President Joe Biden's American Families Plan proposes extending that through 2025, but some Democrats want it made permanent.
Another check could be a boon for many Americans. A poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 38 million Americans say they are worse off financially than before the outbreak began in the U.S. For people below the poverty level, 29% said their personal finances worsened.
The federal poverty line for a family of four in 2019, prior to the pandemic, was $25,750. If you took all three stimulus payments from the last 14 months, that family would have received $11,400 from the government.
Overall, the Impact Genome/AP-NORC poll found 52% of Americans say they were able to save money for most of the past three months, while 37% broke even and 10% were short on paying bills.
Americans broadly supported Biden's first COVID relief package. Pew Research said support for the bill was 70%. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 72% supported it.
A George Washington University political scientist compiled data to find the bill was the fifth-most popular congressional bill or executive action in the last 31 years, the Economist reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.