CORONAVIRUS

Second stimulus check: when will relief bill proposal be presented?

Senate Republicans are preparing to unveil CARES 2, a proposal for the next relief package in the US amid the coronavirus crisis.

Second stimulus check: when will relief bill proposal be presented?
JIM LO SCALZO EFE

Republican senators are due to unveil their proposal for the next coronavirus relief package "early next week", with key figures involved in negotiating the stimulus bill saying this can be expected on Monday.

"We will be laying down this proposal early next week"

Speaking on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell revealed that discussions between GOP senators and White House leaders over a new stimulus bill had led to a “framework” agreement on a proposed package, called CARES 2.

“The [Trump] administration has requested additional time to review the fine details, but we will be laying down this proposal early next week,” he said. “We have an agreement in principle on the shape of this package. It is the framework that will enable Congress to make law and deliver more relief to the American people that is tailored precisely to this phase of the crisis.”

CARES 2 "will be introduced Monday", says Mnuchin

And on Sunday, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the bill had now been finalized and "will be introduced Monday". “We do have an entire plan,” Mnuchin told Fox News. “The administration and the Senate Republicans are completely on the same page." White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also pointed to a Monday unveiling in an interview with ABC.

Expected to cost around $1tn, CARES 2 is Senate Republicans’ response to the HEROES Act, a Democrat-backed stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives in May, but whose $3tn spend has led the GOP-controlled Senate to refuse to take it up. After the new proposal is presented, the media outlet CNET notes, Republican senators are set to begin talks with Democrats in Congress in a bid to "find common ground on the CARES 2 bill".

McConnell expects bill to go to House within "two to three weeks"

Speaking to WKYT on Friday, McConnell said he expected this process to be completed within "two to three weeks". "Hopefully in the next two to three weeks we'll be able to come together and pass something that we can send over to the House and down to the president for signature," the senator said.

CARES 2 to include second round of stimulus checks

As part of the CARES Act, a $2.2tn coronavirus relief bill passed in March, millions of Americans have received a stimulus check, or Economic Impact Payment - and the CARES 2 proposal is set to include another. “Republicans want to send a second round of direct payments to American households," McConnell said on Thursday.

Mnuchin has indicated that a second check will mirror its CARES Act counterpart in terms of amount and eligibility requirements. “We're talking about the same provision as last time,” he said on Thursday, according to The Hill. “So our proposal is the exact same proposal as last time.”

CARES Act stimulus checks: amount, eligibility

The CARES Act stimulus checks, which began being distributed in mid-April, have seen individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year receive $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. In addition, households have been able to claim an extra $500 per dependent under 17.

Expanded unemployment benefits to be reduced

Amid a soaring jobless rate in the US as a result of the coronavirus crisis - more than 50 million people have filed for benefits since March - the CARES Act also gave out-of-work Americans an extra $600 a week on top of their regular unemployment insurance, as part of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation scheme.

However, this measure runs out on 31 July, with the final expanded payments going out this weekend. CARES 2 is set to see the CARES Act extra benefits reduced - amid Republican concerns that the additional $600 has been discouraging unemployed people from returning to work - and claimants could also face a wait for the extra money.

In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Mnuchin spoke of plans to give out-of-work Americans 70% of what they would normally earn. "We want to make sure that the people that are out there that can't find jobs do get a reasonable wage replacement," he said. "It will be based on approximately 70% wage replacement."

According to Business Insider, the economist Ernie Tedeschi, who worked as an advisor to former President Barack Obama, has estimated that this percentage would equate to supplementary benefits of around $200 a week.

20 weeks to bring in new expanded benefits?

Changing expanded benefits from a flat $600 to a system whereby a claimant’s unemployment insurance is calculated as a percentage of their lost earnings could take anything from eight to 20 weeks to implement, NPR has reported, citing a memo sent to US lawmakers by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.

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