Cases of COVID-19 are rising in the US as the more contagious Delta strain of the virus spreads. The spread of the variant has already led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that those vaccinated against the virus return to wearing masks indoors.
In Michigan, eight colleges have already announced that they will require vaccinations for students, staff and/or faculty if they want to return to campus this fall. While there have been no federal or state shutdowns or mask requirements as a result of the increase in the Delta variant, many retailers require masks in their stores regardless of local law.
The surge in cases has also fueled calls for a fourth round of stimulus as economic uncertainty continues. Unemployment claims rose nationwide in July compared to June, and thousands of workers have been laid off in the manufacturing and auto industries in recent weeks.
However, the progress of a possible fourth stimulus round is slow. While Congress is currently negotiating a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, there have been no serious talks about another round of stimulus controls.
In May, six members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling for additional payments to Americans, calling the payments a “lifeline” amid the ongoing pandemic.
“The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need security in a crisis,” reads part of the letter. “They deserve to know that they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.”
A fourth round of scrutiny was supported by more than 80 Congressional Democrats and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Biden, however, was unwilling to put his full support behind the idea. When asked about the checks in May, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said neither would support the issue, leaving it to Congress to decide.
“We’ll see what members of Congress propose, but it’s not free,” Psaki said.
In June, Psaki was again asked about the controls and said the president is willing to discuss anything that can help Americans during the pandemic.
“He’s happy to hear a range of ideas about what would be most effective and what matters most to the economy going forward,” Psaki said as he spoke to reporters.
Psaki went on to say that Biden believes his infrastructure plan and the proposed $1.8 trillion American Families Plan are the best ways to get Americans back on their feet.
“But he has also suggested what he thinks is most effective in the short term to get people back to work, to get through this critical period and also to make us more competitive in the long run,” said Psaki. .
Though Congress has yet to step in, Americans push for an additional kind of payment continues. A petition calling for $2,000 checks to be sent to adults and $1,000 checks to children each month has added another 200,000 signatures in recent weeks and is now over 2.7 million signatures.
Meanwhile, the child tax credit prepayments are still being sent, while the checks will be delivered on August 13. As part of the expansion, the credit was increased from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 for children under 6. Parents could also receive half of the credit in the form of monthly payments from July to December 2021.
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