CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check second round: what plans are under discussion

The distribution of the first round of coronavirus stimulus checks started in April. The White House and Congress are still discussing a second round of payments.

IRS Stimulus check second round
Eric Gay AP

The IRS have paid out a total of $218.4 billion so far in direct payments to Americans in 128.3 million non-taxable stimulus checks to help individuals cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. A total of 150 million stimulus checks are expected to be paid by the end of the program, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushing for another $1 trillion to cover shortfalls in the budget across states.

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Second stimulus check still being debated

What is yet to be decided is whether there will be a second round of stimulus checks. At present there is nothing signed into law to send out a second stimulus check, but there has been a groundswell of opinion across the country that the first check may not be sufficient.

A further $484 billion coronavirus relief bill was signed into law on Thursday 30 April but this was aimed at small businesses and did not contain any provision for a second stimulus check for individuals.

However, a survey by MONEY/Morning Consult showed that 60 percent of Americans say the first stimulus check was not enough to get them through the Covid-19 crisis.

Dems still keen on more stimulus checks

Democrats remain convinced that further checks are necessary, with the party getting behind a plan to give many Americans monthly $2,000 stimulus checks during the pandemic. This position builds on the proposed Emergency Money for the People Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Ro Khanna with a further 17 Democrat sponsors aimed to give Americans 16 and older a $2,000 stimulus check each month for the next six months.

Introducing the bill, Khanna said of the need for further stimulus checks: “A one-time, twelve hundred dollar check isn’t going to cut it,” going on to argue that “Americans need sustained cash infusions for the duration of this crisis in order to come out on the other side alive, healthy, and ready to get back to work.”

On a call with Democrats this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) backed the plan for monthly checks, though it's yet to be seen if it will make it into the CARES 2 deal House Democrats plan to release soon.

The original $2.2 trillion CARES Act provided for the initial $1,200 stimulus check.

Republicans however remain unconvinced by the idea of further stimulus checks. Senator John Kennedy (R-La) said "Well, people in hell want ice water too" when asked about the plans, while Steve Scalise reportedly called any strategy for monthly payments a “radical socialist” idea.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the focus should be on reopening the economy, not another round of checks. "The real stimulus that’s going to change the trajectory that we're on is going to be the economy, not government checks,” Graham said. “So I doubt there will be another payment.”

The overall situation is that Democrats are wanting to spend big - with funding for housing, internet access, food aid, Medicaid, mortgage relief, etc. while their counterparts want to watch how the current stimulus packages play out before spending more. Dems are keen to put money in the hands of individuals, with Republicans preferring businesses to receive any cash going around.

White House still considering second stimulus checks

President Donald Trump is clearly still open to the idea of further stimulus checks, saying back on 7 April in a press conference that it was “absolutely under serious consideration," comments he has never walked back.

Trump said at the start of the month that he was considering funding for a further stimulus package, but that he wanted to “take a little bit of a pause” before passing it. He had been pushing for a payroll tax cut in order to encourage people back to work, although this didn't get the full support from his Republican colleagues.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hasset has sent mixed messages, telling reporters at the end of last month that officials were looking at the need for further stimulus checks, before saying that another round of coronavirus relief legislation might not be necessary, arguing that “because there's been good news really, that the opening up is starting to happen faster than we expected” then there is a chance no further relief, including a second stimulus check would be needed.

Second stimulus check: what happens now?

Effectively, for a second stimulus check to become a reality, lawmakers from both sides of the political divide will need to come together to agree. How those conversations, expected to take place over the next few days, go will determine whether there is a second stimulus check or not, and whether or not there may be recurring stimulus checks.

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