For many Americans, their first COVID-19 payment has already been spent on essentials, and more relief funds are sorely needed. Unfortunately, it's far from certain an additional coronavirus stimulus check will come even as the country enters a recession.
Lawmakers are, however, considering multiple proposals for more stimulus money, and many have expressed a willingness to provide a second payment to families in an upcoming coronavirus relief bill. Negotiations on what that will look like are ongoing, and here's where they stand.
The HEROES Act passed the House but won't become law
The U.S. House of Representatives actually passed a stimulus bill on May 15 that would provide a second COVID-19 payment.
The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act is a 1,800-page bill with a price tag topping $3 trillion. Among other provisions, it would provide payments of $1,200 for eligible adults while expanding who qualifies as a dependent and raising the payment per dependent to $1,200. The HEROES Act keeps the same income limits as the first stimulus bill and limits the number of dependents to three.
Unfortunately, the HEROES Act passed on a party-line vote with only Democrats voting for it and 14 Democrats opting out. It's been declared dead-on-arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, with many lawmakers appalled at the price tag.
This doesn't necessarily mean Senate Republicans aren't on board with sending out more COVID-19 money, though. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated earlier this month that another stimulus bill was likely necessary. And while he spoke out against many of the HEROES Act provisions, he didn't rule out the possibility of another payment to Americans.
Most Republican objections to the HEROES Act center around sending billions to state governments and expanding unemployment benefits, not sending out COVID-19 payments. And some lawmakers from the right side of the aisle have even put forth proposals of their own to get money to Americans. These include the Reopening America by Supporting Workers and Businesses Act of 2020, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican who is the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. It would provide payments of up to $1,200 but only to workers who come off unemployment and go back to work.
The White House has also repeatedly indicated support for a further stimulus bill that could include both money for infrastructure spending as well as some form of direct payments for Americans. And at a recent White House roundtable, President Donald Trump suggested he'd be in favor of a new tax credit worth up to $4,000 to encourage Americans to spend on dining out and domestic travel.
With Trump's support for more COVID-19 money and most Republicans not expressing strong opposition, there are optimistic signs some type of compromise legislation will put more money in your pocket.
However, momentum for negotiating another stimulus bill may have stalled slightly due to a recent jobs report showing unemployment has improved instead of getting worse as was expected. And if there's more good economic news suggesting companies are rehiring quickly, the appetite for another stimulus payment may wane.
Lawmakers will likely act after the July 4 holiday but before Aug. 8
If another stimulus check comes, you can expect it to be a while.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be taking a two-week break for the Fourth of July holiday, and several senior administration officials have indicated Republican lawmakers aren't planning to begin formal negotiations on the next COVID-19 stimulus bill until their return on July 21.
Once they're back in Washington, there's a narrow window of time to act as the Senate will recess again Aug. 8 and not return until mid-September. By that time, with the election under two months away, the Senate may be on to other priorities, and the economy may be on the upswing if there's a V-shaped recovery.
That means if there's no legislation passed by early August, the chances of another check will be a lot smaller.
You can take action today
If you're in need of more stimulus money, contact your representatives and let them know you support additional direct payments for Americans. Your voice can make a difference as they debate over what steps to take next.
But since additional funding is far from certain, you should also act to shore up your own financial situation today. Take advantage of other benefits available to you if you can, and make smart choices about how to use your first stimulus payment if you haven't already done so.
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