Coronavirus USA | Stimulus Checks

Second stimulus check: will there be an additional payment in August?

The HEALS Act proposal laid out by Senate Republicans includes a second stimulus check for US citizens but negotiations are ongoing with Democrats.

Second stimulus check: will there be an additional payment in August?
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP

A second stimulus check for cash-strapped US citizens badly hit by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic has been all-but guaranteed by the provisions laid out in the Republicans' HEALS Act proposal. The draft for the latest economic stimulus package was presented in the Senate on Monday 27 July following tense conversations between GOP leaders and the White House. The HEALS Act, which came in response to the Democratic HEROES Act proposal, envisions a $1 trillion aid package for schools, business and individuals but fell short of guaranteeing the continuance of a $600 additional unemployment benefit for workers who have been laid off due to the Covid-19 crisis.    

Democrats passed the HEROES Act - which also called for a further round of stimulus checks as a priority in a $3 trillion package - in the House of Representatives back in June but Republicans have shown no willingness to put the proposal to a vote in the Senate, where they dominate. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear from the outset that the Republicans favor less expenditure in the latest stimulus package as the US economy reels from the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Both the Democrats and Donald Trump have expressed their preference for a more generous package. The US president has one eye very much on the November elections and is keenly aware that his popularity has fallen even among his hardcore support base as a result of the coronavirus crisis, unrest across the country following the death of George Floyd in May and an economic downturn akin to the Great Depression. Trump has even suggested postponing the presidential elections, although the incumbent's concerns over the November poll are largely based on his mistrust of the US postal voting system. 

Senate Republicans are desperate to limit the size of the total package to $1 trillion while the Democratic HEROES proposal of $3 trillion is seen as unlikely to bear fruit. Washington observers have opined that something in between is the most likely outcome - in line with the $2.2 trillion CARES Act - as both parties try and hammer out a deal before Senate goes into recess. 

Second stimulus check included in HEALS proposal

Despite Republican desire to limit the size of the stimulus spend, a second round of stimulus checks has been included in the HEALS Act proposal, with likely similar conditions to the first round.

As with CARES, these will consist of $1,200 for individuals, with more support for families who have adult dependents. The CARES Act only allowed for $500 stimulus checks for dependents under the age of 18.

The same income criteria for the stimulus checks will be in place as was for the CARES Act ($1,200 per adult with adjusted gross income up to $75,000, tapering down to zero above $99,000. For married couples filing jointly the threshold is $150,000 tapering down to $198,000.)

There had been suggestions that the Republicans would seek to include a $40,000 earning threshold on a further round of stimulus checks but this appears to have been discarded.

When will I get my second stimulus check?

Whether you get your second stimulus check in August very much depends on how quickly the legislation can be pushed through Congress and onto President Trump’s desk for signing.

The only schedule we have to go on is the one from the first CARES Act, so it’s worthwhile seeing when payments could be made if we imagine the second CARES Act goes through in a similar fashion to the first.

Key date: Senate August recess

The Senate’s last day in session is 7 August, with the senators off until 7 September. If the bill is not through by 7 August it won’t go through until the new session starting on 8 September.

Original CARES Act

The first CARES Act was passed by the Senate on 25 March, it passed the House the next day and was signed by President Trump on 27 March. The very first stimulus checks arrived in people’s bank accounts on the weekend of 11 and 12 of April, meaning there is a lag time of around two weeks from the bill becoming law to people receiving payments. The first big round of payments actually hit people’s banks on 15 April.

Negotiations between Republicans, Democrats and the White House began on 28 July. If the bill is to get through before the August recess that allows for eight days of negotiations before the bill goes through the Senate on 6 August.

Once the negotiated bill is through the Senate it should be a formality for it go through the House on 7 August, and for the President to sign on 10 August (the next working day after Friday, 7 August).

A bill signed on 10 August would see the very first checks hit people’s banks on the week beginning 24 August. There is of course the chance that the IRS will be able to get the stimulus payments out faster this time around, because the systems and processes are in place from the first round and the IRS have the details more readily to hand.

Overall, if a second round of payments was similar to the first the vast majority of people should expect to get their payment by the end of the first week of September.

Second stimulus check legislation delayed to September

If, however, the negotiations fail to produce a bill by August recess, the whole process would move to September. Then, in a best case scenario, the bill would go through the Senate at the very earliest on 8 September (presuming negotiations continued over August even with lawmakers away from Washington and ready to press on as soon as they got back).

If the bill went through the Senate on 8 September, it would go through the House on 9 September and be signed off by President Trump on 10 September. In that case the very earliest payments would likely be made on 24 September, with the first main run of stimulus checks hitting people’s banks on the week starting 28 September and the vast majority of people receiving their money by the first week in October.

Second stimulus check payment run

If the situation with the second round of stimulus checks is similar to the timescale for CARES, the second payments could still be going out 20 weeks after the bill passed. For an August package that would be just before Christmas 2020, for a September package that would be into January 2021.

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