Coronavirus

Second stimulus check: What are the possible dates on the horizon?

Millions of Americans are anxiously waiting for lawmakers to agree on a second stimulus payment but it looks like they will have to wait until at least 8 August.

Second stimulus check: What are the possible dates on the horizon?
NICHOLAS KAMM AFP

Roughly 160 million Americans have received federal stimulus checks, provided for by the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March, to help them amid the coronavirus pandemic. Three months later as the economy starts to reopen in the United States the unemployment numbers are still in double digits as the economic effects of the covid crisis continue, leading many to demand a second round of stimulus check to help them through this near-unprecedented recession.

Without the stimulus money already paid out, poverty levels could have spiked from pre-pandemic levels of 12.5% to 16.3%, according to a study by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University published on Sunday. “If high unemployment rates persist beyond July, additional income support will be needed,” the study added.

President Donald Trump has previously said that he is thinking about sending a second round of stimulus payments amid the pandemic, “I think we are working on something that is going to be very dramatic, very good,” said Trump last week.

I think we are looking at Phase 4. Phase 1, 2 and 3 have been fantastic for people generally,” added Trump referring to three earlier economic stimulus packages from the federal government but only one of those phases included stimulus checks worth up to $1,200 per individual, with additional cash for dependents.

Americans look to Congress during covid crisis

Unemployed Americans are anxiously waiting for Congress and the White House to agree on a second stimulus bill but the reality of the situation is that they will most likely have to wait until 8 August, or possible just before, as that is the last day before the Senate will take a month-long recess until 8 September.

Lawmakers are aware of the deadline, but Republicans, who control the Senate, have shown no need to move rapidly to bring in any further aid package. The Democrats have passed the HEROES Act in the House of Representatives, which would provide for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, but it has been rubbished by Republicans who declared it "dead on arrival" and have not brought it for debate in the Senate, meaning it cannot become law.

Republicans have said there is no time to look at further stimulus measures in June, meaning serious debate won't begin until the second half of July, with the 4 July recess chalking off the first half of the month. That leaves three weeks to come up with a new stimulus package, meaning any new legislation will likely push up right against the 8 August deadline.

Everything depends on the unemployment numbers

Moreover any urgency to come up with a new bill will depend on the evolution of the unemployment numbers over the next two months. Republicans are keen to give incentives for people returning to work rather than sending money directly to millions of Americans as happened with the CARES Act. Therefore, the unemployment numbers will play a huge factor in the decision the lawmakers make towards a second round of payments amid the coronavirus outbreak.

What will also play a crucial factor is President Donald Trump's poll numbers. Trump is only too aware of the positive impact direct cash receipts have on voters and if he feels he could get a boost towards his re-election chances in November, he is likely to push Republican leaders to get behind a second round of stimulus checks.