CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check: what did Mnuchin say about second payment?

A second stimulus check, or Economic Impact Payment, is set to be in a proposed coronavirus relief package presented by Senate Republicans next week.

Stimulus check: what did Mnuchin say about the second payment?
KEVIN DIETSCH / POOL EFE

Republican senators are preparing to present their proposal for the next coronavirus relief package, which is set to include a second stimulus check.

"Republicans want to send a second round of direct payments to American households," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday as he announced that the new stimulus bill, called CARES 2, will be unveiled "early next week".

What might the next stimulus check look like?

Speaking earlier this month, US President Donald Trump told Fox that he was eager for a second stimulus check to be more generous than those sent out as part of the CARES Act, a $2.2tn relief package signed into law in March.

"I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats […],” Trump declared. "I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it."

However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been working with Senate Republicans on CARES 2, on Thursday indicated that a proposed second check, or Economic Impact Payment, can be expected to be a repeat of its CARES Act counterpart, in terms of both its amount and its eligibility requirements.

We're talking about the same provision as last time,” Mnuchin told reporters, according to The Hill. “So our proposal is the exact same proposal as last time.”

CARES Act stimulus checks: how much?

The CARES Act stimulus checks, which began being distributed in mid-April, have seen individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year receive a payment of $1,200, with joint tax filers on under $150,000 sent $2,400.

Checks for a steadily smaller amount have also been made available to higher earners, up to a final income limit of $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for joint filers. Furthermore, households have been able to claim an extra $500 per dependent aged 16 or below.

In addition to dependents over 16, those left out of the CARES Act checks also include immigrants without a Social Security number. Passed by the House of Representatives in May, the Democrat-backed HEROES Act put forward a second check for which eligibility would be broadened to include these groups - and give them retroactive access to the CARES Act money.

However, the $3tn relief bill has met with resistance in the Republican-controlled Senate, where it was described as “dead on arrival”.

$40,000 income cap had been hinted at

A fortnight ago, McConnell hinted that a second check could come with a significantly lower income threshold than the CARES Act - a measure that would lead a reported 20 million more Americans to miss out on the payment.

"The people that I think have been hit the hardest during this whole episode have been people making $40,000 a year or less", he told reporters.

He added: “Many of them work in the hospitality business, hotels, restaurants - we're going to be acutely aware of that particular segment of our population going into this next package that we'll be putting together in the next few weeks."

In the days following McConnell’s remarks, however, Bloomberg revealed that an income cap as low as this was "not seen as likely" by a source close to discussions over the next bill - and Mnuchin’s recent comments appear to bear this report out.

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