Suspense over the possibility of a second coronavirus stimulus check continues to grow and things are looking dim in that regard. Even though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin recently said that the Trump administration is open to a second coronavirus stimulus check, we still don’t have a tentative date of when to expect the money. If a recent CNBC report is good to go by, then negotiations over the fourth coronavirus stimulus package could still be a month away at least.
Tentative date for second coronavirus stimulus check
The Senate reconvened earlier this month after the Memorial Day break. However, the backdrop changed a bit. Along with the coronavirus pandemic, the country is now also facing protests over the death of George Floyd.
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Also, the focus of the Republicans is on reopening the economy, and not the second stimulus check. Now they are more in favor of giving people bonuses so as to encourage them to return to work. Moreover, there has been a drop in the unemployment rate after the states eased lockdown restrictions. This may slow down the approval of a second stimulus check.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already suggested that discussions on the next stimulus package will be the last thing on their agenda. Also, Stephen Moore, a White House adviser, recently said that there is no need for a second stimulus package while referencing the latest unemployment numbers.
“It takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of any phase 4," Moore said, according to the Washington Post. "There's no reason to have a major spending bill. The sense of urgent crisis is very greatly dissipated by the report."
However, a recent report from CNBC gives us some hint on the date of when we could expect the second coronavirus stimulus check. Citing two senior administration officials and two senior GOP aides, the report says that White House and Republican negotiators may not hold formal negotiations on the next check until late July.
The Senate will go on a two-week recess from July 4, meaning the Senate and House of Representatives would return to Washington on July 21. Several programs under the CARES Act, such as increased unemployment benefits, are set to expire next month. Thus, if a new bill is to be approved, then it won’t be until late July.
If not July, then what?
Senator John Thune also expects the next stimulus package to pass in July. "If you look right now at the schedule for the balance of the June work period is DOD [Department of Defense], great outdoors, a couple circuit judges. I don't know how you can wedge that in there," Thune said previously.
Such a time frame would give the GOP lawmakers enough time to evaluate unemployment and other data to conclude on the effectiveness of the first round of stimulus. Last month’s unemployment numbers showed that businesses, mainly in the hospitality and construction industries, hired or rehired 2.5 million workers.
If there is no decision until late July, then senators would have about three weeks to decide on the bill before the traditional August recess starts on August 8.
In case no decision is reached before the August recess, then the bill could be shelved to after the summer recess, i.e. September 8, the date when the Senate reconvenes. If the decision on the second stimulus check extends to September, then it would be anyone's guess what the scenario would be at that time, and whether there will be any political will to push for a relief package.
Second stimulus check: what to expect?
As to what the second stimulus check may include, the White House and Republican leaders are yet to decide on that. However, an unsaid consensus seems to be on the inclusion of the liability protection to businesses.
The White House, however, was divided over the suggestion from McConnell that the next stimulus package should not exceed $1 trillion, the CNBC report said.
Talking about the next relief package, Mnuchin suggested that the Trump administration wants to ensure that the current stimulus fund is used before negotiating the new package.
“We want to be careful at this point, seeing how much money is in the economy,” Mnuchin said. “A lot of the money is still not in it.”
Citing sources with information on the calculations by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the CNBC report says more than half of the funds from the last three stimulus packages are not yet spent.
As per the OMB data, less than a third of the funds for the expanded unemployment insurance and hospital reimbursement had been spent. Further, it showed that just $22 billion of $500 billion allotted to the Treasury Department for business loans had been spent. However, the loan number is expected to rise after the Federal Reserve starts giving business loans under its Main Street Loan Facility.