Third stimulus checks weeks away, possible good news for college students

After a year of record-high unemployment numbers in 2020, with people of color experiencing even higher unemployment rates, lawmakers are under pressure to quickly come to a conclusion on when Americans can expect additional financial support from the government. Democrats are moving forward with a relief bill without bipartisan support. By pushing the legislation forward as a budget reconciliation bill, it only requires a majority vote in the now Democrat-controlled Senate.

In the meantime, 10 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have written a letter outlining an alternative framework. This counters President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan. Their plan would cost close to $600 billion, with harsher stipulations placed on those who receive a stimulus check. Families making up to $300,000 a year will be eligible for stimulus checks under Biden’s plan, a number that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman – who also signed the letter – would like to see capped so only families who make less than $100,000 per year would be eligible.

According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, about 15 million dependents were excluded from receiving the last stimulus payment. Biden’s new plan would include college students, even if they were claimed as dependents on their taxes.

It would also allocate $20 billion to creating community vaccination centers, $50 billion to expand testing, $130 billion to K-12 schools to aid in re-opening, $35 billion for public colleges and universities to cover pandemic-related expenses as well as fund emergency student grants, $40 billion for child care subsidies, $15 billion in grants to small businesses, $350 billion for front-line workers and $20 billion for public transit.

Biden’s Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said that the additional stimulus measures are necessary to prevent additional “scarring due to this pandemic.”

Republican lawmakers are calling for Democrats to prove their intentions and promote unity among parties by not pushing the legislation forward as a budget reconciliation bill. They would instead like to work with the President to expand their $600 billion plan.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in Jan. that the budget resolution should be completed by the end of the week.

“I hope we don’t need it. But if we need it, we will have it,” said Pelosi.

Biden has also made it clear that his goal is to provide a solution–quickly.

“I support passing COVID relief with support from Republicans if we can get it. But the COVID relief has to pass — no ifs, ands or buts,” Biden said.