STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: could you get a $1,200 or $600 payment?

As Congress continues to debate a new relief bill, support has grown for a second stimulus check worth $600. However some senators insist the bill must still include $1,200 payments.

Second stimulus check: could you get a $1,200 or $600 payment?

As lawmakers in Washington continue to work towards approving a coronavirus relief package before they adjourn for the holidays, one of the biggest questions that remain is if whether there will be a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks under any new bill passed by Congress.

As part of the first $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package known as the CARES Act that passed in March, the first round of $1,200 stimulus checks were sent to some 60 million Americans. But a long-anticipated second round of $1,200 payments has yet to materialize as Republicans and Democrats remain at loggerheads regarding a second stimulus bill. One of the main sticking points has been the budget for a new package, with Democrats initially proposing a $3.4 trillion bill, while Republicans wanted a more modest $1 trillion spend.

Since Congress began negotiating a second stimulus package in May, several proposals have been put forward by both parties, some of which have included provisions for a second round of $1,200 stimulus payments, while others have not.

Biden and Trump in favor of second $1,200 stimulus check

Throughout the stifled negotiations, President Donald Trump has maintained his support for a second round of payments and has repeatedly urged congress to pass a bill. At one point in September, Trump even proposed unlocking $300 billion in remaining coronavirus relief funds designated under the CARES Act to pay for the second round of stimulus checks. However this proposal failed to grow legs.

As Capitol Hill lawmakers scramble to push through a bill before Christmas, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have recently given their backing to a bipartisan relief plan worth $908 billion. Stimulus payments have not been included in this bill, however it would provide unemployed workers with a $300-a-week federal benefits boost, which is half of the $600 in additional weekly unemployment aid that jobless Americans received until July under the CARES Act.

Even as news broke of this new bi-partisan bill that would leave out stimulus payments, president-elect Joe Biden said that a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks “may be still in play.”

“I think it would be better if they had the $1,200 [payments to families],” Biden said when asked about the new $908bn coronavirus relief plan on 4 December.

“And I understand that may be still in play. But I’m not going to comment on the specific details. The whole purpose of this is, we’ve got to make sure people aren’t thrown out of their apartments, lose their homes, are able to have unemployment insurance [that] they can continue to feed their families on as we grow back the economy,” Biden added.

Support growing for $600 stimulus check

A few days later on 8 December, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly put forward a proposal for a $916 billion package that would include stimulus checks worth $600 per person, but would not provide enhanced employment benefits.

And it was this lack of coverage for the unemployed that prompted Democrats to shoot down Mnuchin’s new proposal. Although, reports from Washington say that bi-partisan support is growing for $600 payments.

Sanders insists new bill must include second $1,200 stimulus payment

Some lawmakers, however, have remained steadfast when it comes to the $1,200 payments, including Vermont senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has insisted that any new coronavirus relief bill must include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

“If Congress can afford to give giant subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and a $1 trillion tax break to the top 1% then we can afford $1,200 direct payments to every working-class adult in America,” tweeted Sanders on 9 December. 

Sanders brought up the issue again a day later on the Senate floor on 10 December, saying: “What I don't understand is that at a time when, in many ways, the crisis is worse today than it was in March, why we are not responding accordingly. Again, we must make certain that every working family in this country receives a $1,200 direct payment, plus $500 for their kids.”

Many of the millions of Americans struggling amid this unprecedented crisis will no doubt agree with Sanders on the issue, regardless of whether they agree with the leftwing senator’s general politics or not.

But the main question remains: will Congress be able to agree on a new coronavirus relief package before Christmas that includes a second round of stimulus checks – be it a payment worth $1,200 or $600?