There’s been a lot of talk about a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks, but lawmakers are looking at the possibility as part of a larger stimulus package. While President Donald Trump has said multiple times there will be a second round of stimulus checks, lawmakers might disagree, especially since it’s sounding like they want to limit stimulus package 4 to a $1 trillion price tag.
Second round of stimulus checks is needed
The big debate on Capitol Hill is whether more direct payments are actually needed. A recent poll suggests that they definitely are. Newsweek reported on a new poll from Money/ Morning Consult.
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They surveyed 2,200 U.S. residents earlier this week and found that 42% said a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks was needed to help them pay for essentials. An additional 32% said more direct payments would help them, but they didn't necessarily need more money to pay for essential expenses.
A U.S. Economic Monitor survey conducted by the Financial Times and the Peterson Foundation found that 76% of respondents believe it's important for them to receive another stimulus check. The survey was conducted in late May, and 51% said it was very important to receive a check, while 25% said it was somewhat important.
Stimulus package 4 could be valued at $1 trillion
Other than the possibility of a second round of stimulus checks, there haven't been a lot of details about what stimulus package 4 could include. Some proposals have been floated, but few specifics have made headlines.
One thing we're hearing now is that the Trump administration and Senate Republicans may seek to cap stimulus package 4 at $1 trillion. This isn't a new detail, as we've heard it before from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. However, the price tag of the package has fallen on the backburner amid talk about a second round of stimulus checks.
Citing a senior Trump administration official, Fox Business reports that the White House wants to keep the price of stimulus package 4 at $1 trillion or less. That's going to make the negotiations on Capitol Hill even more difficult as lawmakers fight over what they believe should be prioritized in the bill.
Congress is set to start negotiating with the Trump Administration on the phase four stimulus package on July 20. The House of Representatives has until the end of July 31, when they will leave for their one-month recess. The Senate leaves for its August recess on Aug. 7 at the end of business.
Will a second round of stimulus checks make the cut?
With a price tag of $1 trillion, that's going to limit what can be included in the phase four stimulus package. However, some Republicans have gotten concerned about the ballooning federal deficit. The deficit climbed to $1.9 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The gap between what the federal government is spending and what it will collect in fiscal 2020 is on track to reach a record $3.7 trillion this year. The previous record for an annual fiscal deficit was $1.41 trillion in 2009, according to Fox Business.
The first three stimulus packages cost almost $3 trillion, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which included the first round of coronavirus stimulus checks. With a low price tag of $1 trillion, lawmakers will have to be careful about what makes the cut for what will probably be the last stimulus package to deal with the fallout from the pandemic.
If a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks makes it into the package, then it could be limited to low-income households. McConnell said households earning less than $40,000 appear to have been hit the hardest by the fallout, although it's unclear whether that would be the upper cap on receiving a second stimulus check.
Citing sources aware of discussions in Congress and the Trump administration, The Washington Post reports that lawmakers are indeed looking at proposals for a second round of stimulus checks that would target households with lower incomes than the first round. Individuals earning less than $75,000 received the full $1,200 of the first stimulus check, and the payments phased out entirely at $99,000 for individuals.
Other possible provisions
Beyond a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks, lawmakers are also considering various provisions. They will have to prioritize those that will have the biggest impact if they're going to keep the price tag of the bill at $1 trillion.
Other possible provisions include additional unemployment benefits. The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits expires at the end of July. If Republicans agree to extend the extra benefit, it probably won't be the full $600, which resulted in most people being paid more on unemployment than they were on the job.
The White House has also said it wants to see stimulus for the industries that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic, like restaurants and hotels. Other possible provisions include back-to-work bonuses, liability protection for businesses, and aid for state and local governments.