As record-high inflation wreaks havoc on family budgets, millions of Americans have signed a petition demanding a second COVID-19 stimulus check. How likely is it, however, that lawmakers in Washington, D.C. will accede to these demands and provide another direct deposit into citizens’ bank accounts?
Here are the conditions that must be met for a fourth stimulus check to be authorized.
Only under these conditions is a further stimulus test possible.
Only if a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate vote for an additional direct payment — and if President Joe Biden signs a financial relief bill authorizing the distribution of additional funds — is another stimulus check possible.
Numerous Democrats would likely support a proposal that would increase public funding. In fact, a number of proposals have been made to provide additional stimulus relief. These include Build Back Better, which offered an expanded Child Tax Credit for parents, and a number of bills that would pay money to the majority of Americans to assist them in coping with high gas prices. To date, none of these bills have passed.
The Democrats’ narrow majority in the House of Representatives is a major concern. And their Senate majority is even smaller. There are only 50 senators who generally vote with the Democrats, and if the Senate is evenly divided, Vice President Kamala Harris can break the tie.
The majority of legislation that passes through the Senate can be blocked through a procedural maneuver known as filibuster, if Republicans choose to employ this option. To overcome a filibuster and pass a bill, sixty votes would be required. In order for lawmakers to pass another stimulus bill through the regular legislative process, they would need the support of at least 10 Republicans.
The Democrats also have the option of passing legislation through the reconciliation process. Bills that have been reconciled cannot be filibustered. This is how the last stimulus check became law without the support of Republicans. However, this would require the support of all 50 Senate Democrats.
In order for another stimulus bill to pass, either every Democrat in the Senate must support it unanimously, or 10 Republican senators plus every Democrat must support it.
How probable is it that additional stimulus bills will be passed?
Several conservative Democrats have expressed reservations about increasing the amount of money available for spending at a time of rising inflation. They have indicated that they believe a large spending bill could increase the demand for goods and services, thereby aggravating inflation by driving up the prices of goods and services. As a result, it is unlikely that 50 Democrats in the Senate would vote to pass another stimulus bill.
And Republicans did not support the previous stimulus check, even when the pandemic was significantly worse, so it is unlikely that ten Republicans would vote in favor of additional financial assistance.
All of this indicates that the likelihood of an additional direct payment is remote. If economic conditions deteriorate significantly and lawmakers feel compelled to act, a second check is possible. If the country enters a severe recession, for instance, or if a new COVID variant causes additional lockdowns, this may generate sufficient pressure to authorize another payment.
Aside from these circumstances, it is extremely unlikely that Americans will receive another stimulus payment in 2022.