Fourth Stimulus Check Update: 150 Economists, 21 Senators Among Supporters of Recurring Payments

A petition for monthly stimulus checks of $2,000 is nearing its goal of 3 million signatures as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the U.S. Those who have pushed for recurring direct aid include 21 senators and 150 economists, but the Biden administration has signaled that it's not a priority, focusing instead on advancing its infrastructure plan.

Denver restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin created the Change.org petition last year, which urges the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to deliver legislation that would provide families with a "$2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately, and continuing regular checks for the duration of the crisis."

The petition has drawn over 2,760,100 signatures as of Saturday, with about 286,800 new supporters in the past month.

"The most common reason [people sign] is that uncertain feeling," Bonin told Newsweek. "We're still in uncertain times ... And it's times like this that it feels like people go back into a fear-based life."

Twenty-one Democratic senators urged President Joe Biden to deliver recurring direct payments in a letter sent March 30. The lawmakers argued that the last federal stimulus check of $1,400 wouldn't be enough to support low-income families through the ongoing crisis.

Led by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, the coalition of senators include Dick Durbin of Illinois; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; Michael Bennet of Colorado; Cory Booker of New Jersey; Tammy Duckworth of Illinois; Alex Padilla of California; Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; Jeff Merkley of Oregon; Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Mazie Hirono of Hawaii; Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut; Bernie Sanders of Vermont; and Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

The group included a broad range of Democrats, from moderates like Stabenow and Bennett to progressives such as Booker and Warren, and six committee chairs across finance, agriculture, banking, judiciary, budget and armed services.

"These payments help keep families out of poverty, but they also act as economic stimulus by increasing spending and supporting jobs," they wrote. "Now is the time for boldness."

The lawmakers didn't specify how large and frequent the payments should be. A separate Democratic effort in January, led by Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota with more than 50 House members, also pushed for recurring payments for the duration of the pandemic. In a tweet, Omar specified that the administration should approve "$2,000 monthly payments until the pandemic is over."

More than 150 economists—including Jason Furman, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under the Obama administration—supported the idea of "recurring direct stimulus payments" in an open letter last year.

"Regular, lasting direct stimulus payments will boost consumer spending, driving the economic recovery and shortening the recession," they wrote.

Despite the pressure, it's becoming increasingly clear that further federal stimulus checks are unlikely to be sent out. The Biden administration has directed its attention to advancing the two infrastructure bills, neither of which contain any direct payments.

Stimulus checks U.S. Capitol Building D.C.
A petition for monthly stimulus checks of $2,000 is nearing its goal of 3 million signatures as coronavirus cases surge in the U.S.. In this photo, the early morning sun strikes the U.S. Capitol November 6, 2006 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images