As record numbers of Americans are unemployed due to the pandemic, many are wondering if there will be a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks. As it turns out, there is reason for hope, but there are also reasons not to expect a second round.
White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett told reporters on Tuesday that the Trump administration is "studying very carefully" whether a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks will be needed. He also said a fourth COVID-19 relief package seems likely, and it could include more stimulus payments for Americans.
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Hassett's remark is particularly meaningful because he is the first Republican to suggest there could be a second round. Previous comments and efforts have all come from Democrats. Some Democrats are even proposing monthly stimulus payments of $2,000 for at least six months.
Arguments for a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks are certainly being made. Citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNN Money reports that monthly spending on food averages $660 for Americans. The average monthly housing payment is almost $1,700. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic hit home, so it seems pretty clear that more stimulus will be needed.
A survey conducted by Simply Wise found that 63% of Americans will need another stimulus check within the next three months. The same survey found that 15% of Americans will need another check within the next two weeks. Additionally, a MONEY poll found that the first stimulus check wasn't enough for 60% of respondents.
Why there might not be more payments
Unfortunately, it's expected to take 20 weeks for all Americans to receive their economic impact payments. The House Ways and Means Committee said in a memo that the IRS can process just 5 million paper checks per week. Thus, that timeline is certainly a factor in whether there will be a second round of checks or not.
Another problem that's delaying work on additional stimulus payments is the fact that Congress' recess has been extended to May 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives and Senators must vote in person, which means they can't pass any legislation until they are able to meet in person.
Further, President Trump said he is more interested in enacting payroll tax cuts instead of a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks. He said such a plan would be an incentive for people to get back to work because they would be able to keep more of the money they make. However, a payroll tax cut may not get much support among lawmakers because it only helps those who are working. Given that millions of Americans are out of work, it would do nothing to help those who need the money the most.
There is a possibility that the federal government won't be the source of a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks. State and local governments could decide to send payments to their residents. Jacksonville, Fla. is already using some of the stimulus money it received from the federal government to provide stimulus checks for its residents.
According to Forbes, the CARES Act, which provided funding for the first round of economic impact payments, also included money for state and local governments to cover expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such expenses can include things like coronavirus testing, but it can also "expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures." It's under that section of the bill that Jacksonville is providing its own stimulus payments.
It's unclear whether any other state or local governments will follow suit, but the provision is there. Until any announcements or official moves are made, we will just have to wait and see whether there will be any additional stimulus money for Americans.