Even as the push for a fourth stimulus check has been stalled in Congress, the idea has been quietly building steam online.
A Change.org petition calling on Congress to provide $2,000 monthly checks for every American, plus $1,000 per month for every child, recently cleared 2.1 million signatures.
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"The best thing our government can do right now is send emergency money to the people on a monthly basis," states the petition, which was started by Stephanie Bonin, who lives in Vermont but owns a restaurant in Denver with her husband.
"I'm calling on Congress to support families with a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately, and continuing regular checks for the duration of the crisis."
Bonin's petition was started in March 2020 as then-president Donald Trump and Congress were putting together the CARES Act, which sent $1,200 to most American taxpayers. The petition took about a month to get 1 million signatures, and nearly a year to get the second million.
"Stimulus checks are effective and equitable and urgent, and those are three things we desperately need right now," Bonin told Denver-area alternative newspaper Westworld in December as lawmakers were putting together the bill that provided the second round of stimulus checks.
Could $2,000 monthly checks happen?
Bonin's proposal is a very long shot, no matter how many people sign her petition. President Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have turned their attention to rebuilding American infrastructure and providing more support for American families.
The latter proposal, called the American Families Plan, would send parents and legal guardians money for each child every month through 2025. That's not the same as what Bonin wants, which is a monthly stimulus check for every single American regardless of income.
Even Biden's plan might have a tough time getting through the Senate, which is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. There's little chance that moderate Democratic senators would go for Bonin's proposal.
In January, some 50 House Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging monthly stimulus checks for the duration of the pandemic. At the end of March, 21 Democratic senators did the same. Neither letter specified an amount for the checks. But since then, nothing has happened on Capitol Hill regarding such proposals.
Not giving up
That's not deterring the people who sign Bonin's petition.
"We need continued financial support to keep people from going bankrupt," wrote one signatory this morning.
"I am a one-income family with a child. This could help me get back on top of bills," added another.
Bonin's goal is to get to three million signatures, which looks like it might be doable given the sudden acceleration in the signing rate.
"We need immediate checks and recurring payments so that we can keep our heads above water," the petition concludes. "Congress needs to make sure that we won't be left financially ruined for doing our part to keep the country healthy."