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Stimulus check: "We're going to seriously look at" second round, says US Treasury Sec Mnuchin

United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the Trump administration is open to a second round of coronavirus Economic Impact Payments.

United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin testifies at the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Hearings to examine implementation of Title I of the CARES Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. June 10, 2020. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via

United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has offered encouragement to Americans awaiting news on whether or not they’ll be getting a second stimulus check.

Trump administration open to "more direct money to stimulate the economy", says Mnuchin

"I think we're going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy," Mnuchin told a hearing by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship on Wednesday, per Business Insider. "I definitely think we are going to need another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy."

With the coronavirus leading to a financial crisis that has seen over 40 million people in the US apply for unemployment benefits since the pandemic hit, eligible Americans have been receiving stimulus checks - officially known as Economic Impact Payments - of up to $1,200 as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2-trillion relief package passed in March.

HEROES Act resisted by Republicans in Senate

A second round of payments was included in the HEROES Act, a $3-trillion Democrat-backed bill that passed the House of Representatives in May, but it has come up against stiff Republican opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Kudlow: "Less rescue and more incentive"

Bloomberg reported last week that officials in President Donald Trump’s administration expect to spend the lower amount of "up to $1 trillion" in the next economic package. Although Mnuchin’s remarks suggest a second stimulus check may be part of such legislation, the presidential adviser Larry Kudlow has spoken of a need to focus on "less rescue and more incentive".

For example, Kudlow has stated his support for a $450 return-to-work bonus proposed by Republican Senator Rob Portman, telling Fox Business: "Sen. Portman has a good idea. He understands incentives and disincentives."

Republicans tell White House bill can't exceed $1 trillion

A $1-trillion spending cap would be in line with the limit that Republicans in the Senate have reportedly told the White House the next bill must keep to.

Speaking in late May, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlined Republican intentions to only allow through a reined-in, "narrowly-crafted" stimulus package, and was also quoted as saying that such legislation would have to "correct the mistakes that we certainly made in passing a multi-trillion-dollar bill in one week".

Unemployment figures could affect bill budget

What’s more, a June repeat of May’s unexpectedly positive employment figures would give Senate Republicans "additional leverage to keep the next relief bill under $1 trillion", Forbes notes, adding that stimulus legislation is unlikely to be passed until the end of July at the earliest.

Live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

At the time of writing, there had been 2,000,464 coronavirus cases and 112,924 deaths in the United States, which has been by far the worst-affected country in the world. You can follow live, America-focused news on the Covid-19 crisis with our US rolling feed.