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4th stimulus check: What to know about the petition, Biden's official stance

A petition to deliver a fourth stimulus check is circulating, a White House spokeswoman delivered a vague message and how more money could come your way in 2021 and beyond.

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The fate of a fourth stimulus check is still unknown.

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Will the US get a fourth stimulus check? That's certainly the hope of more than 2.1 million people who signed a petition on Change.org, a website that lets users start and circulate petitions. This online call for a follow-up stimulus check was started by Stephanie Bonin and is directed at the US Senate and House of Representatives. Bonin's goal is to receive 3 million online signatures, or just under 1% of the US population. "Our country is still deeply struggling," the petition says. "Many people face large debts from last year for things like utilities, rent and child care."

"We'll see what members of Congress propose," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday when asked whether President Joe Biden supports another stimulus check. (Here's how to track your third payment.)

Meanwhile, Biden has laid out two new stimulus plans. While neither explicitly contains another check, the new plans, combined with the $1.9 trillion bill from March hint at other ways you could get thousands of dollars in benefits or tax breaks, including $3,600 per kid from the new child tax credit, and up to $50,000 in other tax credits. Here's how to claim an income tax refund and find out if the IRS owes you money for a previous tax refund. This story was updated with new information.

Could the new stimulus plans include a fourth stimulus check?

The American Rescue Plan approved in March is Biden's first stimulus package, with its $1,400 checks$300 extra in weekly unemployment benefits and an expanded child tax credit running into 2022. (See if you qualify for the recurring child tax credit payments.) 

The Biden administration advocates two sequel stimulus bills for 2021. The first proposal, called the American Jobs Plan, aims to invest in the nation's energy grid, transportation, broadband and water systems -- and may not include stimulus checks, despite the urging of progressive senators (PDF).

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However, Democratic members of the House and Senate have thrown their weight behind a fourth stimulus check, including recurring or monthly payments. Earlier this spring, a group of 10 progressive lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, asked Biden to include regular stimulus payments (PDF) in his next stimulus bill.

"We urge you to include recurring direct payments and automatic unemployment insurance extensions tied to economic conditions in your Build Back Better long-term economic plan," the statement said. A few weeks later, another group of 21 Democrats made a similar request to Biden.

How the next stimulus 'check' could look

The American Rescue Plan contains three types of payments with money going directly to individuals, one of which is the $1,400 stimulus check. It's possible a future bill could extend or introduce more money through direct checks that go to specific groups of recipients, including parents who earn below a certain income or people out of work.

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Here are the three types of direct payments approved in the March 2021 bill:

Stimulus checks: The one-time stimulus payments have been sending up to $1,400 a piece to those who meet the requirements. (Here's what to know about plus-up payments for people who may get more money on top of the check they already received.)

Child tax credit: An expansion of the child tax credit for 2021 sends qualifying families up to $3,600 for each child -- you can calculate your child tax credit total here. These periodic checks will last through the end of the year, with a final payment in 2022. 

Federal unemployment bonus: A monthly federal unemployment check is being sent until Sept. 6 at up to $300 a month, in addition to state benefits for unemployed workers.

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Congress has already approved a variety of aid this year.

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Future payments could arrive these 4 ways

The third leg of Biden's economic stimulus strategy -- called the American Family Plan -- could include more money going out directly to individuals and families. Here's how.

Approve recurring payments: Biden's third proposal is the next likely place for Congress to provide more funding. This is where Democratic senators are calling on Biden to push for recurring fourth stimulus checks during the pandemic.

Pass a minimum wage hike: Some senators continue to look for ways to boost the federal minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour. In his speech before Congress, Biden called on the legislators to raise the minimum wage to $15. Sens. Mitt Romney and Kyrsten Sinema have also pitched a hike. Some proponents want to set the bar at a $15 hourly wage but others are looking to go to $11 an hour. "If any senator believes this is the last time they will cast a vote on whether or not to give a raise to 32 million Americans, they are sorely mistaken," Sanders tweeted on March 5. A February report from the Brookings Institute models how a $15 minimum wage could help make 37% of US households financially self-sufficient.

Make the child tax credit raise permanent: Money from the expanded child tax credit is set to start in July, sending periodic payments to lower-income and middle-income families with children. In his speech before Congress, Biden called on the House and Senate to extend the expanded child tax credit to 2025. Others, including Romney, also support making the credit permanent since it will lift millions of children out of poverty.

Renew federal unemployment payments beyond September: Along with recurring payments, the 10 progressive senators in their letter to Biden requested he also extend federal unemployment assistance beyond September.

Here's how to report a problem with your stimulus check, how to know if your state owes you money and how you could get a discount on your internet bill through an FCC program.