CORONAVIRUS

Second stimulus check: Republicans having doubts about another $1,200 payment

The HEROES Act sent to the Senate by the Democrats included a second stimulus check but after initial optimism, Republicans are pushing back on the idea.

Second stimulus check: Republicans having doubts about another $1,200 payment
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

Republican lawmakers are starting to have second thoughts about a potential second stimulus check for American citizens struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. The CARES Act saw millions of Americans receive economic aid during the start of the pandemic and the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House but was said to be 'DOA' once it reached the Senate, is still in the works. It would include another round of $1,200 checks for eligible citizens. There was optimism that a second round of economic relief could be reached but that is looking increasingly unlikely.

On Tuesday, the Republicans said they want to focus their attention instead on Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program rather than sending Americans checks. This was always the sticking points with Republicans keen to restart the economy rather than simply sending money to citizens; something they see as anathema to their principles. In fact, one Republican called it a “radical socialist” idea to send people money.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the CARES Act was passed with the stimulus checks included because of the speed at which it was negotiated. At the time, the country was entering lockdown and the whole world was scrambling to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Second round of stimulus checks unlikely

“Most folks are very grateful for the help at that point,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said referring to late March. “But I don’t think we should set up a situation where we’re doing a check month after month after month.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the prospect of Congress funding another round of rebate checks is “unlikely.” With the economy re-opening and with the worst of the coronavirus seemingly behind the US, they are looking at different options. Lankford said it is 'a different day' regarding the differences between CARES Act and the HEROES Act.

Democrats say that the stimulus checks are not specific enough in who they are targetting and Republicans say they are more concerned with helping with unemployment benefits. The country has seen its highest unemployment figures since the Great Depression and some experts say the stats are actually worse than what is being reported.

Democratic Delegate, Sen. Christopher Coons, said the biggest benefit of including rebate checks in the CARES Act “was that it was immediate and it was widely distributed.”

“My concern is that it’s not focused in a way that is designed to help create or help sustain jobs, to deal with rental housing or education,” he said. “My top priority is a robust round of assistance to state and local governments.”

Negotiating over second stimulus check

When Nancy Pelosi sent the HEROES Act to the Senate, she said that it was a starting point and negotiations could not begin. Democrats have shown their hand and it was time for Republicans to pick holes in the bill in order to turn it into a law.

And the biggest hole the Republicans see in the bill is the stimulus checks. But it might simply be a negotiating tactics as other Republicans have not thrown the idea of some form or second stimulus check out the window. Trump himself was keen on another round of payments.

“I’m not enthused about another round of rebate checks,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill.

“I do believe we should be helping people on Social Security because the price of food has gone up and I don’t see any end in sight,” he said. “A payment to Social Security recipients who are on fixed income of $50,000 and below might make sense.”