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Your next stimulus check: Congress tries to speed $1,400 payments along

Your next stimulus check: Congress tries to speed $1,400 payments along
Your next stimulus check: Congress tries to speed $1,400 payments along

Congress is trying to take steps toward quickly passing President Joe Biden’s coronavirus aid proposals, including a third wave of direct relief payments for most Americans.

The next batch of stimulus checks would be for $1,400 — to top off the $600 payments that started going out in late December. Democrats and former President Donald Trump had wanted to provide $2,000 in that round but were thwarted by Republicans leading the Senate at that time.

Now, there’s a new Senate, with Biden’s Democratic party in control. That could make it easier for the new checks to pass, though there are a few potential challenges. For example, a number of lawmakers want to keep the new checks from going to higher-earning Americans.

Here’s what to expect, plus the latest estimate on when you’re likely to get more cash — if you even get a stimulus payment next time.

New checks given high priority

Extreme close-up of Federal coronavirus stimulus check provided to all Americans from the United States Treasury in 2020, showing the statue of liberty.
William Sawalich / Shutterstock

Biden has announced a wide-ranging $1.9 trillion COVID rescue package, containing the new stimulus checks. He says the recent $600 payments were “simply not enough.”

“You just have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table,” Biden said in a speech outlining his proposal.

The first $1,200 relief payments Americans received last spring were largely spent on expenses for just getting by, including groceries and rent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has said.

A bureau survey also found some people invested the cash or used it for various other purposes. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance — sales of policies have surged amid the pandemic.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the U.S. House is fast-tracking Biden’s plan, with House committees expected to vote on it by the end of the week. It will be “completely ready” for the full House to pass next week, Pelosi says.

What’s the possible timing on 3rd checks?

Meanwhile, the Senate is faced with holding an impeachment trial for Trump, though that’s on hold for a couple of weeks. Biden says the delay will help get new coronavirus aid “up and running,” so some movement on the stimulus checks is likely this week.

But the Democrats’ new majority in the Senate is thin as can be, and even a few Democrats may balk at parts of the Biden COVID plan, including his call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15.

Also in the Senate, there’s growing opposition to giving third checks to higher-income Americans. Previously, taxpayers making over $75,000 a year received some money, though their payments were smaller.

Biden is willing to bend: “There’s legitimate reason for people to say: ‘Do you have the lines drawn the exact right way? Should it go to anybody making over X number of dollars or why?'” he said at a news conference on Monday. “I’m open to negotiate those things.”

If both the Senate and House are able to approve the new stimulus checks early next month — which is indeed possible — you could receive yours by late February. But if there are any snags — and those are possible, too — you might have to wait until March or even April.

What if you need more money right now?

Unhappy Family Sitting On Sofa Looking At Bills
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

If COVID is battering your budget and you need additional cash immediately, here are a few ways to scrounge up some money on your own:

  • Shrink the cost of your debt. If you’ve been relying on your credit cards more than usual during the COVID crisis, you’re probably piling up interest. Take control of your credit card debt — and make it go away more quickly — by rolling your balances into a single, lower-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Find creative ways to save. Cut ties with any subscription services you’re not using. Do more of your own cooking and stop your occasional dinner deliveries. And download a free browser add-on that will automatically hunt for better prices and coupons whenever you shop online.

  • Cut your insurance bills. Since many of us are driving less during the pandemic, car insurance companies have been giving price breaks. If your insurer is one of the stingy ones, shop around for a better policy. And, you could save hundreds on your homeowners insurance by comparing rates to find a lower price.

  • Refinance your mortgage and slash your payments. Mortgage rates have been lower than ever, so refinancing your existing home loan could provide major savings. Mortgage tech and data provider Black Knight says 19.4 million U.S. homeowners could cut their housing payments by an average $308 per month through a refi.

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