The big news has been the status of a second round of Coronavirus stimulus checks. It’s sounding more and more like lawmakers will send more direct payments, but it’s likely that a lot fewer Americans will be eligible to receive the money.
The good news is that for those who do pass the eligibility requirements could expect to receive the second round of stimulus checks quickly after the bill is passed.
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Status update on the second Coronavirus stimulus check
The big question surrounding the status of a second stimulus check is whether Republicans can be convinced to support it. Many are worried about the skyrocketing federal deficit, and a second round of direct payments would only increase it further.
When President Donald Trump started to say that he wants to see another round of checks, some Republicans started to come around to the idea. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the phase four stimulus package could well include a second round of checks.
However, he suggested a key stipulation that would exclude many Americans from eligibility for a second stimulus check. He threw out a $40,000 income threshold, which would greatly reduce the number of households that would be eligible.
Such a compromise may be necessary to convince hesitant Republicans to send a second round of checks. It may also be needed to keep the phase four stimulus package at a price tag of $1 trillion, which is the unofficial target being circulated right now.
The Government Accountability Office said in its June report that in the first round of stimulus payments, the federal government sent approximately 160 million checks and direct deposits totaling $269 billion. About $300 billion in the CARES Act was earmarked for stimulus payments, so some Americans have yet to receive their first check.
By lowering the income threshold for eligibility, lawmakers would also reduce the amount of money spent on stimulus payments, making room for more provisions in the phase four package.
Will lawmakers agree?
The next question regarding the status of a second stimulus check is whether lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will agree to the terms of eligibility. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told NBC News that she doesn't know where McConnell got the $40,000 income limit on eligibility.
He said people earning about $40,000 and less have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. However, Pelosi said he has not spoken to her about that income limit. She thinks many families earning more than $40,000, depending on the number of members and other factors, also need assistance.
She added that McConnell would have to explain and justify the $40,000 income limit before she would agree to it. Given that the climate has become more political than it was a few months ago, it may be more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement.
Both sides have their own priorities, and they are on a tight deadline to get the phase four stimulus package passed. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wouldn't go into details about the second round of stimulus checks beyond a status update saying the White House supports them.
Second Coronavirus stimulus check status: expected timing
However, he did tell CNBC that as soon as the Senate returns from its two-week recess on July 30, they will "sit down on a bipartisan basis with the Republicans and the Democrats." It will be their priority to ensure that between July 20 and the end of the month, the next stimulus bill is passed.
Mnuchin also said he had a "very productive call" with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and McConnell earlier this week about the negotiations. One other good thing about the status of a second stimulus check is that Mnuchin said the second round could come "very, very quickly."
If Congress approves the phase four stimulus package by July 31 when the House of Representatives leaves for its one-month recess, then it could take about two weeks for the payments to start going out. The first round of checks started going out on April 15, less than three weeks after the approval of the CARES Act.
More Americans have turned in their direct deposit information this time around, and the IRS and Treasury are already set up to send payments after the first time. Thus, it is possible that it won't take as long for the second round of stimulus checks to start going out.
If Congress passed the legislation on July 31, it will then have to go to President Trump's desk for a signature. He will probably sign it fairly quickly, which could put the second round of stimulus checks starting to arrive around mid to late August.