Coronavirus USA

Stimulus check: what factors affect second bill approval?

With some of the millions of payments still being dealt with from the first round, what are the main influencing factors to a second stimulus getting agreed.

Stimulus check: what factors affect second bill approval?
Dado Ruvic REUTERS

With the first stimulus payments from the United States government continuing to reach the households and business that most need them - and local authorities doing what they can to meet the immediate needs of their residents with the CARES Act funds - attention remains focused on a second payment. The HEROES Act passed through the House of Representatives what feels like an age ago, and it is still awaiting its day in the Senate, which has been suggested could come after the 4 July celebrations.

What factors could impact any bill passing?

The Democrats’ HEROES Act was pronounced ‘dead on arrival’ but Republicans, including the president, and even one of its authors, Nancy Pelosi, alluded to the fact that it was a starting point for discussion. But it still appears that there is a huge divide between the two parties, with a $3 trillion package looking impossible to swallow for the GOP while their vision of no more than a third of that doesn’t feel enough for the Dems.

Republicans can now point to the recent surprise that was seen with the unemployment figures, trumpeted at every opportunity by a zealous president upon their announcement. May’s drop to 13% aligned itself with an additional 2.5 million jobs being plugged. Some will claim that these were predominantly the return of temporarily laid off workers, while others have questioned how the figures have been seeing calculated each month, but either way, it is ammunition to say the economy is coming back quickly, and with strength. A reason to push back against another stimulus payment, at least until further data is known in the coming weeks and months.

As states open up more and more activities for business, just as Trump has councelled, then the results - both with regards to jobless claims falling and no significantly adverse spike in the number of new Covid-19 cases - will likely determine if, and what, is signed off for a second stimulus payment.

November reign

Another important factor that cannot be ignored is the political capital required by both sides, as the presidential election in November draws ever closer. If the economy doesn’t pick up to an appropriate level, or indeed it begins to drop away again, Republicans will want to play their stimulus card in time to save face, and votes.

Second term on my mind | US President Donald Trump hosts a roundtable with faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and small business owners at Gateway Church Dallas Campus in Dallas, Texas, on 11 June.

Likewise, Democrats want their bill to be a saving grace for millions of American voters struggling thorough the current pandemic and resulting financial difficulties.