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Are Stimulus Checks Off the Table in 2022?

The Ascent logo The Ascent 1/9/2022 Christy Bieber
a person standing in front of a brick building: Woman sorting through mail at her mailbox. © Getty Images Woman sorting through mail at her mailbox.

Americans have received three coronavirus stimulus checks to date. Millions believe there should be a fourth, based on 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 D.C. have taken no recent action to provide another payment.

The big question is, will that change next year or is another stimulus check off the table in 2022?

This is why another stimulus check is unlikely in 2022

The chances of a fourth stimulus payment in 2022 are slim.

It's unlikely more money will be deposited into people's bank accounts or sent via mail for a few simple reasons.

  • Millions of Americans are vaccinated, so further lockdowns are not likely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 77.2% of Americans aged 5 and over had received at least one vaccine as of Dec. 21, 2021. With so many people vaccinated, further lockdowns aren't likely. In fact, the White House COVID response coordinator recently said: "We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this." Without mass closures of businesses, there's little reason for another check.
  • It's an election year. Passing large-scale legislation in an election year is difficult because many lawmakers are focused on re-election rather than tough legislative fights.
  • There's likely not enough support among lawmakers: The American Rescue Plan Act was passed by Democrats alone, through a process called reconciliation that was able to overcome a Republican filibuster. There is a limited number of times reconciliation can be used to pass legislation, and unanimous support from all of the Democrats in the Senate is necessary for it to happen. Reconciliation is likely to be used for other priorities besides a fourth check, if it is used at all. Some conservative democrats were reluctant to pass the last large-scale relief bill at a time when the case for it was much stronger.

For all of these big reasons, it's unlikely another stimulus check will come in 2022 unless conditions change dramatically.

This is why another stimulus check could happen

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

It does, however, appear resistant to some of the vaccine's protections against transmission. And the speed at which it spread despite widespread immunity shows that another, deadlier variant could easily sweep the country and necessitate another shutdown.

If that occurred, there would likely once again be bipartisan support for a stimulus payment as there was for the first two checks signed into law under President Donald Trump. So, another check isn't off the table, but it would probably be a worst-case scenario if one was sent out as it would mean conditions worsened dramatically.

It is possible that parents could find that the expanded Child Tax Credit will be renewed, so at least some families could get more money from the federal government in 2022 – although even that isn't entirely likely at this time.

Since more payments probably won't happen, Americans should plan for a future in which money from D.C. is no longer coming and should adjust their budgets and expectations for 2022 accordingly.

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