January 21, 2022

Are stimulus controls off the table in 2022?

Woman sorts the mail in her mailbox.

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Millions of Americans are hoping for a fourth stimulus check, but is it out of reach?


Most important points:

  • The American Rescue Plan Act was signed on a party basis in March.
  • Millions of Americans want another stimulus check.
  • The chances of it occurring in 2022 are slim, but there is a possibility.

Americans have so far received three coronavirus stimulus checks. Millions believe there should be a fourth, on the basis of a petition signed by many who are struggling.

While some states have stepped up to provide additional direct payments into people’s bank accounts, lawmakers in Washington DC have recently taken no action to make another payment.

The big question is: will that change next year or will there be a new stimulus on the table in 2022?

Here’s why a new stimulus check in 2022 is unlikely

The chance of a fourth incentive payment in 2022 is small.

It is unlikely that more money will be deposited in the bank accounts or sent by mail for a few simple reasons.

  • Millions of Americans have been vaccinated, so further lockdowns are unlikely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 77.2% of Americans ages 5 and older had received at least one vaccine by December 21, 2021. With so many people vaccinated, further lockdowns are unlikely. In fact, the White House COVID Response Coordinator recently said, “We intend not to let Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You did the right thing and we will get through this.” Without massive business closures, there is little reason for a new audit.
  • It’s an election year. It is difficult to pass large-scale legislation in an election year because many lawmakers are more focused on reelection than on hard legislative battles.
  • There is probably not enough support among lawmakers: The American Rescue Plan Act was passed only by the Democrats, through a process called reconciliation, which was able to overcome a Republican filibuster. There are a limited number of times that reconciliation can be used to pass legislation, and unanimous support from all Democrats in the Senate is needed for this to happen. Reconciliation will likely be used for other priorities besides a fourth check, if any at all. Some conservative Democrats were reluctant to pass the latest large-scale emergency bill at a time when the arguments for it were much stronger.

For all of these key reasons, there’s unlikely to be another stimulus check in 2022 unless circumstances change dramatically.

This is why another stimulus check can take place

The reality is that a new virus variant could change everything. Omicron has quickly become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States, and while it appears more contagious, early evidence suggests it may be less severe than previous variants.

However, it appears resistant to some of the vaccine’s protective agents against transmission. And the speed with which it spread despite widespread immunity shows that another, more deadly variant could easily overwhelm the country and require another shutdown.

If that were to happen, there would likely once again be bipartisan support for a stimulus payment like it was for the first two checks signed under President Donald Trump. So another check is off the table, but it would probably be a worst case scenario if one is sent as it would mean conditions would deteriorate dramatically.

Parents may find out that the extended child tax credit will be extended so that at least some families can get more money from the federal government by 2022 — though even that is not entirely likely at the moment.

With no more payments likely to occur, Americans need to plan for a future where money will no longer come out of DC and adjust their budgets and expectations for 2022 accordingly.

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