Coronavirus stimulus checks

Second stimulus check: can a new payment happen in October?

Negotiations with Nancy Pelosi are still ongoing but Donald Trump faces a race against time to get a financial support package agreed before the election.

Second stimulus check: can a new payment happen in October?
Fritz Nordengren/ZUMA Wire/dpa Fritz Nordengren/ZUMA Wire/dpa

A lot has changed since the first round of stimulus checks were deposited in mid-April. Over 200,000 Americans have now tragically died of covid-19, millions have lost their jobs and the President has contracted and apparently recovered from the virus. And yet, less than three weeks away from the election, negotiations over a second wave of Economic Impact Payments are still ongoing.

Regardless of who wins on 3 November the election will almost certainly add an extra delay to the process of agreeing financial relief for those suffering due to the pandemic. The coming weeks will be crucial if a deal is to be struck but how likely is another round of stimulus payments before the end of the month?

Trump pushes for stimulus checks ahead of election

As the 2020 Presidential Election draws near the incumbent is still lagging behind in many of the polls. One carried out by Opinium Research found that 57% of likely voters intend to vote for challenger Joe Biden while only 40% say they will back Donald Trump. With a huge deficit to overturn the President knows that his campaign needs a substantial boost.

Just over a week after publically ending negotiations via Twitter, Trump now appears desperate to pass a bill providing a second round of stimulus checks to get cash into Americans’ pockets ahead of the election. He had initially refused to commit more than $1.6 trillion to the financial relief package but after his $1.8 trillion offer was rebuffed by Nancy Pelosi he has today said that he would be willing to go even higher.

The President’s rapid climb-down suggests that he is very willing to compromise to make a deal; good news for Americans hoping to receive a second round of financial support in October.

Pelosi holds out for greater concessions

But while the President has upped his offer considerably he is still some way short of the $2.2 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives months ago. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi seems determined to hold out for a broader stimulus package but she risks alienating the electorate if she refuses to budge. Trump has already attempted to paint the Democrats as selfish and that pressure will only build as the negotiations wear on.

A report in The Washington Post claims that Pelosi has dismissed the White House offer as a “slush fund”, designed to curry favour with voters without addressing the underlying economic problems. The spat between the President and Speaker of the House continues to dominate negotiations and Trump has again claimed that Pelosi is deliberately delaying the agreement for political gain.

Senate Republicans look to pass their own stimulus bill

Even if the President and the House were able to come to some agreement before the end October any bill would still have to pass through the Republican-held Senate, something that is far from a given. Large-scale government spending is antithetical to Republican economic ideology and the Senate would much prefer a smaller, more “targeted” bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he would be holding a vote on a new, streamlined stimulus bill next week. Full details have not been released but Roll Call has reported that the Senate will vote on a “skinny” relief package worth roughly $500 billion. Speaking in Kentucky on Tuesday, McConnell said the bill would include “another round of checks for those who have been hit the hardest", suggesting a higher income threshold than the previous payments.

What does this mean for the next round of stimulus checks?

Although the Republican Senate have shown a willingness to pass a bill providing stimulus checks to Americans, it is unlikely to be as far-reaching as before. The first wave of Economic Impact Payments was available to anyone earning less than $75,000, or $112,500 for head of household filers – that may well be lowered for the second round of checks.

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been leading the White House negotiations and pressure is growing for him to find any sort of deal before the election. Trump took a swipe at Mnuchin on Thursday, saying “So far, he hasn’t come home with the bacon.”

With political pressure mounting the prospect of a new economic relief bill before the end of October appears back on the agenda, but Americans will have to wait to see if it includes the package of stimulus checks that they are hoping for.