Next Round Of Stimulus Payments Could Be Finalized Tuesday

Monday, March 8th 2021, 5:48 pm
By: Alex Cameron


Oklahomans who qualify for the next round of federal stimulus checks -- and that would be the majority of adult Oklahomans -- could get them before the end of March.

The payments and other relief measures are not quite a done deal yet, but they could be by the end of Tuesday.

President Joe Biden said passing major COVID-19 relief would be his first and top legislative priority once in office, and early Saturday morning, the Senate took him a long way toward getting it done.

Following hours of debate, many failed amendment attempts, and a squabble among Democrats over unemployment benefits, senators passed an amended version of the so-called American Rescue Plan with a vote of 50 to 49.

"I promised the American people that help was on the way," Biden said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. "Today, I can say we've taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise."

With Americans slowly getting vaccinated and the economy showing signs of recovery, Republicans feel the package's $1.9 trillion price tag is far more than what the country needs, and so not one Republican senator voted for it.

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said in a statement, "We should make sure we continue to respond to those who need an extra hand at this time but be careful not to create a crisis down the road that is left for our children and grandchildren."

Also in a statement, Sen. Jim Inhofe called it a partisan bill "that claims to be for pandemic relief, but very little of it would actually go to address the pandemic and much of the money designated wouldn’t be spent for years."

The major components of the bill include:

  1. $1,400 stimulus checks for individuals making up to $75,000 a year; $2,800 for couples with combined income up to $150,000
  2. $350 billion in aid for state, local and tribal governments
  3. $300/week in federal unemployment through August
  4. $160 billion for vaccine distribution and public health measures
  5. $50 billion in aid for small businesses, including $30 billion specifically for restaurants and bars
  6. $130 billion for K-12 schools and $40 for universities

Most of the funding for schools wouldn't be for this year, but would help educators in years to come as they grapple with problems caused by the pandemic.

The House will vote on and is expected to approve the Senate's changes to the bill Tuesday, and then send the bill to the White House for what is likely to be a major signing ceremony later this week.