WASHINGTON D.C. — With President-elect Joe Biden vowing to send the American people a third stimulus check valued at $2,000 and Democrats in control of congress, it may seem like a forgone conclusion that additional direct payments are on the way. However, not all Democrats are on board.
West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, a 10-year veteran of the Senate, has indicated he’s not in favor of $2,000 checks going out to most Americans. Last week, he told the Washington post, “absolutely not” on the idea of direct payments with that high of a financial figure that aren’t specifically targeted.
A few days later, he seemed to temper his tone during an appearance on CNN.
“That’s not a yes or no question,” Manchin told Jake Tapper Sunday. “How is the money that we invest now going to help us best to get jobs back and get people employed? And I can’t tell you that sending another check out is gonna do that to a person that’s already got a check.”
A Manchin spokesperson indicated the senator isn’t definitively against additional checks but wants the focus to be on distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Politico.
Manchin is in a unique position as one of the more moderate Democrats in the U.S. Senate. With the chamber now split 50-50, he’s in a powerful spot as a potential swing vote to the Republican side.
Chuck Schumer, who will become majority leader, indicated new checks are one of his top priorities.
“one of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families,” he said.
That’s a priority shared by the incoming president. Biden told Georgia voters ahead of last week’s Senate runoff that electing Democrats would be key to getting those $2,000 checks. That happened — and Biden is now pushing to make those direct payments happen as soon as possible.
“We need to provide more immediate relief for families and businesses now,” Biden said during an address to reporters last week. “People are really, really, really in desperate shape.”
So when could this $2,000 payment become a reality? Probably the first part of February at the earliest. The results in Georgia would first need to be certified before the new senators take their seats. It’s expected that Republicans will file appeals to those results. The deadline to certify results is January 22, according to Yahoo News.
The Washington Post also notes it’s not clear whether the checks would be standalone legislation, which could move pretty quickly, or a component of a much larger package that may take time to work through.
The idea of a larger payment came about from President Donald Trump’s eleventh-hour proposal to increase the size of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. The $600 bipartisan compromise had been considered a done deal and had won sweeping approval in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it. After the $2,000 proposal was blocked in the GOP-controlled Senate, Trump signed the deal with smaller checks.
Prior to the Georgia race, Biden noted he’d push for new direct payments but wouldn’t discuss a definitive amount. He had referred to this most recent $600 check as a “down payment.”