The Boston Herald found that 1.2 million of the $1,200 stimulus checks remain unspent.
The IRS said those people either refused to accept, paid back, or haven't cashed the check.
Republicans have suggested using unspent COVID money to fund infrastructure, which Democrats strongly oppose.
As a growing number of Democrats are pushing for recurring stimulus checks beyond the three that Americans have already received, the Boston Herald found 1.2 million people still haven't spent their first $1,200 check, from all the way back in March 2020.
Under the CARES Act passed that month, most Americans received a $1,200 stimulus check to help ease the financial pain of the pandemic. The Herald reported on Sunday that 1.2 million people have yet to spend those checks, citing records obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The records show that California leads the country with 123,265 unspent stimulus checks, followed by Florida with 92,018 unspent checks.
The IRS told the Herald that the figures reflect "the number of people who either refused to accept, paid back or not cashed the stimulus checks they received from the IRS as a result of the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020" by President Donald Trump.
Unspent COVID-19 relief money supports Republican lawmakers' arguments that more money should not be spent on things like infrastructure until money already allocated from pandemic relief bills gets put to use. For example, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise cited in February the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's COVID Money Tracker that found $1 trillion of pandemic relief funds are unspent.
"There's over a trillion dollars of money unspent from previous relief bills that were bipartisan," Scalise said Feb. 21 on ABC's This Week.
However, the CRFB noted that figuring out how much money is actually unspent is complicated because much of it is already allocated and scheduled to be spent.
More recently, a growing number of GOP-led states have moved to cut off $300 weekly unemployment benefits early, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has suggested using those unspent funds to fund infrastructure.
"I think there's all kinds of different ways that we're looking at. Certainly repurposing some of those covid dollars," she told Bloomberg. "I've been looking at those 21 states that are no longer paying the enhanced unemployment - why don't we repurpose those dollars to help those folks coming off unemployment get work in an infrastructure plan." The White House has dismissed such suggestions.
Even though 1.2 million stimulus checks remain uncashed, a growing number of Democrats are pushing for checks to be recurring, along with extended unemployment benefits, to sustain economic recovery. A recent report from the Economic Security Project found that sending two more rounds of stimulus checks could keep 12 million more Americans out of poverty, which is why in March, 21 senators wrote a letter to Biden advocating for recurring direct payments. Last week, seven House Democrats wrote a similar letter pushing for the same thing.
"The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need certainty in a crisis," the House Democrats wrote. "They deserve to know they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. They should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions."
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