The White House says it's up to Congress to decide on sending more stimulus checks because they're 'not free'

The White House says it's up to Congress to decide on sending more stimulus checks because they're 'not free'
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House on Tuesday said it would be up to Congress to decide whether more direct payments go out the door this year, as they are a costly measure for the federal government to deploy.

"We'll see what members of Congress propose, but those are not free," the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said at a press conference.

Psaki touted the revamped child tax credit, a provision that President Joe Biden's stimulus bulked up to $3,600 for each child age 5 and under or $3,000 for those ages 6 to 17. The president's newest $1.8 trillion economic proposal sets that up as a child allowance that lasts through 2025.
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"If passed, the families of tens of millions of children will continue to get regular payments," she said. "Obviously, we're continuing to evaluate what their needs are - to continue to get the pandemic under control, put people back to work, but we think that's a proposal with a long-term benefit."

The stimulus law in March included a round of $1,400 direct payments for people earning $75,000 and below and couples earning under $150,000. Their amount diminished until individuals making above $80,000 were no longer eligible. It's capped at $160,000 for married couples.

The program carried a $422 billion price - just over a fifth of the overall rescue package. Two waves of relief checks - totaling $1,200 and $600 - were issued last year as well.
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The measure enjoys strong public support, but Congress is unlikely to back another large wave of such payments anytime soon given fresh signs of improvement in the economy.

Centrist Democrats earlier this year sought to cut eligibility on the third federal payment to keep it from benefiting wealthier people who had kept their jobs. Biden agreed. Republicans are unlikely to support a fourth payment, citing a hefty price tag and renewed concern about the national debt. Some Democrats, chiefly progressives, have called for recurring stimulus checks until the pandemic is over. Two months ago, a group of 10 Senate Democrats including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren backed ongoing payments tied to economic conditions.
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Experts also noted that the payments were efficient at reaching people unable to access unemployment benefits. A report from the Economic Security Project, an organization advocating cash benefits, said fourth and fifth direct payments would keep 12 million Americans out of poverty.

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