The three stimulus checks issued by the federal government in response to the coronavirus pandemic have helped many Washington, D.C.-area residents meet financial obligations and daily needs.
Now talk on Capitol Hill about a possible fourth check has some excited about the prospect of more money in their hands.
“I was glad to get my stimulus checks,” Marion Green, a resident of Seat Pleasant., Md. said. “When I got each one, I cashed them immediately. I spent the money because times are very hard. I work in the grocery industry and people are just barely making it even though they are working.”
Green’s observation of widespread financial stress is underscored by fresh data. Nine percent of U.S. adults in a March survey said there was a food shortage in their household in the previous week, according to U.S. Census data. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 40 percent of a survey’s respondents said their current income falls short of pre-pandemic income and over 10 million people have fallen behind on their rent.
The center said close to 30 percent of people surveyed reported some difficulty keeping up with expenses. Green said that while the three stimulus checks, totaling $3,200 in his case, isn’t a grand sum, the cash makes a difference in helping people stay afloat financially while the pandemic continues.
In April 2020, individuals who made less than $75,000 a year and couples with incomes less than $150,000 received stimulus checks of $1,200 and $2,400 respectively, plus $500 per qualifying child under the CARES Act. About 159 million received the CARES Act stimulus payment.
In December, the second round of checks, about 147 million Americans received a $600 individual payment each and $600 per qualifying child 16 years and younger.
In March, under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, approximately 159 million Americans received payments of $1,400 payment for singles, $2,800 for married couples and $1,400 for each qualified dependent.
Bobby Curtis King II, a Ward 4 resident, voiced support for stimulus payments to U.S. residents during the COVID-19 era, even though he didn’t receive cash in April or December.
“I didn’t get the $1,200 or the $600 because I was a graduate student studying abroad and my parents claimed me on their 2019 taxes,” King said. “I did get my $1,400 two weeks ago and I am very happy about that. I used the money on rent, paying off my student loan and I saved the rest. I am saving money for a rainy day. Since getting back in the states, things have been a little rough for me, so the stimulus helped.”
Stacey Lincoln, who represents advisory neighborhood commission district 4A02, appreciates the three stimulus payments he has received.
“I used the money to pay credit card bills,” Lincoln said. “Other than that, I saved the money because the pandemic is still with us. This recent payment really helps now because I am [an IRS form] 1099 employee whose hours have been cut and this gives me a cushion to work with.”
While many people are utilizing their checks, some haven’t received one.
“I haven’t received one stimulus check even though I make less than $75,000 a year,” Anthony Wright, a Ward 7 resident, said. “What really bothers me is that there are people who are getting their checks and doing some illegal things out on the street and I am working hard and getting nothing. I’ve contacted my bank and they haven’t been able to help me and when I talked to the IRS, they said something about incomplete information.”
A Fourth Stimulus Check?
A group of Senate Democrats that included Ron Wyden of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, recently sent a letter to President Biden requesting another round of direct payments.
“This crisis is far from over, and families deserve certainty that they can put food on their table and keep a roof over their heads,” the letter said.
Additionally, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and 53 of her House colleagues sent a letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris supporting direct recurring payments to qualified Americans “until the economy recovers.”
Omar and her colleagues in the progressive caucus later said the payments should be $2,000 a month until the pandemic ends. Lincoln said he heard about the monthly recurring payments and thinks it worthwhile but doubts it will be adopted. Nevertheless, he said a fourth stimulus payment, in whatever form and whatever amount, should occur.
Green agrees with Lincoln.
“I do think there should be a fourth stimulus check,” he said. “It will really help people who are out of work. People are really having a hard time these days. People are behind on their rent and you have landlords who want to throw them out on the street.”