The American Rescue Plan is handing out $1400 checks to millions of Americans. But for some, that money may end up in the hands of debt collectors.

Congress did not create any protections that would prevent the stimulus checks from garnishment for bills, child support, or other outstanding debts.

It’s not the first time Congress has made such an oversight.

In the first round of coronavirus relief measures, passed last spring, individuals were given up to $1200 each to help them weather the economic storm.  But those payments weren’t protected from collectors, as other government payments are.

Several states stepped in to protect the payments, but it wasn’t until the December relief bill, which handed out $600 checks to individuals, that the payments were protected from garnishment.

The reason there was no protection this time? Blame Democrats eager to pass the mammoth spending bill and the Senate’s rules:

To avoid having to overcome a filibuster with 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats passed the relief bill using a process known as budget reconciliation. The Byrd rule stops lawmakers from tacking on measures to reconciliation bills that won’t directly affect the budget.

Democrats now say they intend to pass legislation protecting the latest round of stimulus checks but offered no timetable for introducing, let alone passing such a bill.

Image Credit: By Jericho [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons