Most Americans are wondering if there will be a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks. For now, the date to watch is July 20 because that’s the earliest negotiations on the phase four stimulus package could begin.
The Senate is on recess this week and next week, while the House of Representatives is doing committee work. There are some reasons to be optimistic about a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
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Why a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks looks likely
A month ago, the chances of a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks looked slim. Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress were not very keen on the idea. Even Senate Democrats wanted to make sure the second round of checks was more targeted than the first round.
However, President Donald Trump has said he supports a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks in recent weeks. In fact, he said the phase four stimulus package would be "very generous." He didn't comment on specifics except to say they would definitely be sending a second round of checks.
He didn't say how much the checks would be or when they would arrive, although he did say to expect an update in a couple of weeks. That would be this week, so we could learn more about the second round of coronavirus stimulus checks in the coming days.
There are other reasons to be optimistic about a second round of checks. Although the economy added more jobs again in June, unemployment remains high. The Payroll Protection Program probably contributed to the addition of jobs, but that money was supposed to be used up in eight weeks. Thus, there could be another round of layoffs this month.
Whatever happens with the economy, it seems clear that the first four packages did help, but there is still more to do. Further, many states have paused their reopening efforts or moved backward because of the resurgence in COVID-19. That also means bad things for unemployment.
It's also an election year, so lawmakers in both parties especially want to make sure their constituents feel like they're being taken care of during the pandemic.
When should we expect a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks?
Congress is on a tight timeline for passing the phase four stimulus package. Nothing will be done until at least July 20, and even then, it will take some time for lawmakers to negotiate various provisions. The House leaves for recess on July 31, so that is the deadline to get something done.
Once the phase four package does pass both houses of Congress, it will go to President Trump's desk for a signature. He will likely sign the bill without much delay.
After the bill leaves the president's desk, it could take about two weeks for the IRS and Treasury Department to start sending out the payments. As with the first round of payments, the agencies will probably start with direct deposits.
Since everything is now set up from the first round of payments, the second round of coronavirus stimulus checks should go more smoothly. People who had to sign up for direct deposit for the first round will already be signed up for the second round of payments. As a result, more people should be getting their money faster than they did the first time around.
What else could be in the phase four package?
July 31 is an important date for Congress for more than just the fact that the House leaves for recess on that date. It's also the date when the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits runs out.
Democrats want to extend the extra $600, but Republicans may require a compromise. The problem with the extra $600 is that it results in most people getting paid more on unemployment than they were on the job.
Republicans seem open to compromising on unemployment benefits, so they might agree to including extra unemployment money in the phase four stimulus package. The question will be whether Democrats are firm on the extra money being $600 or whether they will be willing to strike a deal to get some extra unemployment money included and get the bill passed.
Other than unemployment and a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks, the phase four package will likely include other provision. Republicans want to see a temporary suspension of the payroll tax to reward people for getting back to work and put more money in Americans' pockets.
The Trump administration has talked about the phase four stimulus package focusing on jobs and getting back to work, and Senate Republicans will likely agree with that. Democrats will probably also agree with benefits for small businesses, so that means good things for negotiations.
Other provisions that could be included in the phase four stimulus package include aid for state and local governments and back-to-work bonuses.