WASHINGTON – As the number of coronavirus cases spike in parts of the country, even forcing some states to re-close certain businesses, many are wondering whether Congress will pass a second round of stimulus checks.
Over the next several weeks, Congress seems poised to pass one more major economic relief bill, with Republican and Democratic leaders indicating more direct stimulus payments for Americans could be involved.
President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have both said repeatedly that they support another round of economic impact payments.
Under the CARES Act, millions of Americans received checks up to $1,200 per adult, and an additional $500 for each eligible child, for individuals making less than $75,000 and couples making less than $150,000 annually.
The HEROES Act, which the House of Representatives passed in May, would have authorized another round of payments, but the Republican-controlled Senate deemed the $3 trillion proposal dead on arrival.
In order for another round of payments to get into the hands of Americans in the next few months, Congress will likely have to come together on a compromise and send it to the president in the next few weeks, before the Senate goes on a planned Summer recess.
Below is a timeline with details on key dates for Congress and what one more economic stimulus package could look like. This story will be updated as new information becomes available and as the timeline changes for a possible second stimulus check.
What is the timeline for a second stimulus check?
Mnuchin Expects New Stimulus Deal by End of July
Treasury secretary says administration is working with the Senate to pass a new bill for coronavirus-related economic aid https://t.co/KojqrDVFlY
— Karol Cummins (@karolcummins) July 9, 2020
The U.S. Senate returns Monday, July 20, from a recess that began on Friday, July 3.
Steven Mnuchin recently told CNBC that “as soon as the Senate gets back, we’re going to sit down on a bipartisan basis with the Republicans and the Democrats and it will be our priority to make sure between the 20th and the end of the month that we pass the next legislation.”
During a press conference in Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed he has been in talks with Mnuchin already and his staffers have been working on legislation for one last coronavirus rescue package. He said they’ll begin debating and discussing the plan next week.
McConnell added that he will start “socializing” it with GOP members when folks return, then start negotiating with Democrats and “start the legislative process.”
“I think you could anticipate this coming to a head sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week,” McConnell said.
On July 31, the U.S. House is scheduled to begin a more than one month recess that would last until just after Labor Day.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday she’s “absolutely” willing to delay or cancel that recess in order to come to an agreement on additional economic relief for Americans.
“The timetable is the timetable of the American people needing their unemployment insurance, their direct payments, their assistance for rent and mortgage…forbearance,” Pelosi told CNN. “We need it for states and localities to be able to pay their employees who are meeting the needs of their constituents.”
On the other side of the Capitol, McConnell has made it clear he is less willing to delay the Senate’s planned Summer recess, which is scheduled to begin on Aug. 7 and last until Sept. 8. McConnell told reporters on June 30 that “we are going to stay on the schedule that I announced earlier in the year, which means we will not be here in August.”
Sept. 8 to Sept. 25
If Congress can’t come to an agreement before Aug. 7, and if the Senate goes on its summer recess as planned, then this two-week period in mid-September would be the next shot lawmakers have at passing a coronavirus relief bill.
When could a second stimulus check be sent?
As of July 14, when a second stimulus check will be sent all depends on when legislation is approved.
President Trump approved the CARES Act on March 27 and the first Economic Impact Payments started appearing in people’s bank accounts about three weeks later, during the week of April 14.
President Trump previously told the agency to raise its shipping rates by "approximately four times" before it can get access to aid already approved in the initial CARES Act stimulus package, or seek more funding. https://t.co/jizGokiTSU
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 8, 2020
However, because the IRS already did a lot of the set-up work during the first round of payments, there’s a chance a second round of stimulus checks could be sent out faster.
That being said, nothing will be sent out until Congress comes to an agreement on a stimulus package. With the Senate not returning until July 20, there’s still a chance for the IRS to start issuing checks in August but the window for that is shrinking.
What could the second stimulus check look like?
When asked about a second stimulus check when visiting a hospital in his home state of Kentucky on July 6, McConnell suggested targeting those making less than $40,000 a year
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. So that could well be a part of it,” McConnell said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back on that limit, saying during a July 9 press conference “I think families making over $40,000 probably need assistance, depending on their situation.”
The Democrats’ HEROES Act would have offered another $1,200 per person plus $1,200 per dependent, with a $6,000 cap per household.
There have also been a variety of other stimulus check ideas proposed by lawmakers since the pandemic begins. If a second check is approved, it could look like one of the above or be something completely different. We won’t know for sure until the legislation is proposed and voted on.
What else could be in the next stimulus bill?
McConnell has said that any more economic relief packages must have liability protection to help protect hospitals, doctors, nurses, businesses and schools for the next five years.
“Nobody should have to face an epidemic of lawsuits,” McConnell told reporters Monday.
He also said he hopes the bill has an emphasis on kids, jobs, healthcare and schools. Senate Democrats have proposed a $430 billion education stabilization plan. But the Republican leader has not said how much Congress is willing to spend, wary of high-dollar outlays that will run into resistance from GOP senators. Vice President Mike Pence assured governors Monday that talks are underway for education funds from Congress.
The CARES Act included additional unemployment benefits for those who lost their job due to the pandemic. The program provided an additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Without additional legislation, that program will expire on July 31.
Mnuchin hassaid the program will be fixed so that people will make more money working than being on unemployment.
“We’re going to make sure that people are [incentivized] to go back to jobs, Mnuchin said. “We’ll figure out an extension to it that works for companies and works for people who will still be unemployed.”
Republicans oppose extending the $600 weekly unemployment benefit boost that expires at the end of this month. They say it pays people to stay home rather than work, but Democrats say jobless Americans need the extra money.
In addition, a bill could provide continued eviction protections. The original CARES Act provides a temporary moratorium on evictions for most residents of federally subsidized apartments, including those supported by HUD, USDA or Treasury for 120 days after enactment. That means the service would end July 25, 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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