CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: will there be $1,200 direct payments?

Lawmakers in Washington DC continue to hammer out details of covid-19 relief, the White House has stepped in raising the hope of another stimulus check.

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Second stimulus check: will there be $1,200 direct payments?
SUSAN WALSH AFP

On Capitol Hill lawmakers passed funding for the government for a week to give Congress a little more time to reach an agreement on relief to deal with the coronavirus and its effects on the nation. There are a handful of proposals floating around from the wide-ranging to the more focused but the middle ground is gaining support.

Although economists and some Democrats are pushing for a second round of $1200 stimulus checks there is strong resistance to the cost of such a step being taken again. In President Trump’s new proposal, half that amount is being offered but again the price tag may be too high for right now. Time is running short with millions of Americans still unemployed and many more facing layoffs as the covid-19 surges ever more across the US

What is Trump proposing?

Although details are limited Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin issued a statement Tuesday proposing a $916 billion relief package from the White House. The proposal would include a plan to provide about $40 billion in new funding for federal unemployment benefits, lower than the $180 billion in a bipartisan proposal. That money would go to extend expiring benefits but would not include a supplementary federal benefit similar to the one in the CARES Act or like the one through FEMA emergency funds according to the Washington Post.

The proposal also calls for another round of direct payments but half of what the Democrats are looking for. Mnuchin has proposed that lawmakers approve another stimulus check worth $600 per person and $600 per child as per the Washington Post. The current White House proposal is a nonstarter for Democrats who have been have been pushing for $1200 in direct payments and insistent about the need for the federal government to provide additional income support for laid-off workers.

There may be some wiggle room from the White House though. Senator Josh Hawley has been in discussions with the White House on the matter. He told Politico that Trump would likely support at least $1200 in payments to individuals and could possibly go higher. But this could also imperil the negotiations further as it would tack on a minimum of $150 to $300 billion to a spending ceiling of $1 trillion, which Republicans have been wary to cross.

The Bipartisan plan

The $908 billion bipartisan plan has excluded stimulus checks for the time being with Senator Bill Cassidy saying on Fox News Sunday “This is not a stimulus bill, it’s a relief bill.” But he left open the option of stimulus checks down the road adding “It’s something for the next three to four months to help those in greatest need.” On ABC’s This Week Senator Dick Durbin indicated that excluding the checks while assuring small-business aid and renters’ assistance was the only way to reach agreement with Republicans who are putting firm limits on the bill’s final price tag.

One of the last major roadblocks to the bill getting passed has been Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with former roadblocks to other proposals House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging him to pass the bill. Both Cassidy and Durbin said on the Sunday talk shows that McConnell has shown interest in the bipartisan effort.