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Third stimulus check: Biden calls for $1,400 payments

Joe Biden makes a fist pump while standing in front of two American flags.
(Image credit: Stratos Brilakis/Shutterstock)

A third stimulus check worth $1,400 is included in a new relief plan proposed by President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday (Jan. 14). The $1.9 trillion package will look to supplement the $600 second stimulus check to bring a total of $2,000 to eligible Americans.

The President-elect, who will take office next Wednesday (Jan. 20), also broadened the eligibility guidelines in his "American Rescue Plan." He suggests that dependents up to age 23, as well as senior parents living with adult children, should qualify families for additional $1,400 payments.

That means that every American who earns less than $75,000, or is a dependent of someone who earns less than $75,000, would be eligible for the third stimulus check.

“We will finish the job of getting a total of $2,000 in cash relief to people who need it the most," said Biden while unveiling his relief plan. "The $600 already appropriated is simply not enough.”

How we got from $600 to $2,000

For several months following the first, $1,200 stimulus check last spring, lawmakers struggled to reach a compromise on a second relief plan and a second round of direct payments. In the final days of December, a $900 billion bipartisan bill was finally passed, but with $600 stimulus checks rather than $1,200 ones.

During that prolonged period of debate, some left-wing House Democrats proposed $2,000 stimulus checks, a number that had not previously been discussed. 

President Trump soon seized on the idea and vowed not to sign the second stimulus bill until payments were increased to that amount, but relented under pressure from  congressional leaders. 

The Democrat-controlled House quickly approved a standalone measure that would boost the $600 payments in the December bill to $2,000. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) didn't quite shoot that bill down when it reached his chamber, but he attached proposals to it he knew Democrats could not vote for, effectively killing the effort.

After Inauguration Day, Democrats will have a razor-thin advantage in the Senate, but may not have enough to pass a spending bill without some Republican support. 

Biden hopes see his new plan eligible for a signature early in his presidency. However, he did say in his speech Wednesday that it might not be easy for lawmakers to agree on legislation, but that stimulus checks are a top priority.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide covering wearables, TVs and everything smart-home related. When she’s not in cyborg mode, you can find her on an exercise bike or channeling her inner celebrity chef. She and her robot army will rule the world one day, but until then, reach her at kate.kozuch@futurenet.com.