On Tuesday, House Democrats launched a bid for a second coronavirus relief bill worth $3 trillion, which would include another direct monetary payment for individual Americans alongside relief for businesses and people who are unemployed, the US postal service and coronavirus testing costs (view the bill here). The IRS is still making stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per person to millions of Americans for the first COVID-19 economic stimulus package, worth $2 trillion.
Right now, the economic impact payments being issued by the IRS through direct deposit to banks and by checks in the mail were introduced as part of a one-time payment designed to help curb the financial blow caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. Now, the proposed legislature to sign a second 2020 stimulus check is being fueled by a 14.7% unemployment rate in April, more than 33 million people filing first-time unemployment claims since mid-March, and the country barreling toward a recession that economists predict globally could be the worst since the Great Depression.
In the past few days, the idea of this bill has moved quickly from a future-looking conversation to fleshed-out legislation. Here’s what we know about a second round of stimulus payments in 2020 for individuals. This story updates frequently in light of new information, and is intended to provide an overview of the situation.
Recap: The first coronavirus stimulus package
In an effort to blunt the financial effects of the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump in March signed into law a $2 trillion economic stimulus package (technically a relief package) that included payments of up to $1,200 to eligible US taxpayers and $500 for each child 16 or younger. The IRS began sending checks in the middle of April, and by the end of the month it had made more than 122 million payments. The rollout was bumpy, with some recipients wrestling with the tools the IRS provided to assist with signing up for and tracking their checks.
How much would the proposed coronavirus stimulus bill give to individuals, if passed?
The bill being proposed right now — which Democrats are calling the HEROES Act, according to a fact sheet from the House Appropriations Committee — includes a wide range of benefits, among them a second direct payment to individuals and households. It’s suggested that the second bill, if signed into law, would provide a cash infusion of up to $1,200 per family member, with a cap of $6,000 per household.
In addition, it would carry over the current enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week (on top of the typical unemployment payout) to January 2021.
The argument in favor of another round of stimulus checks
The proposed legislation is a self-described “bold response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse,” according to the House fact sheet. The financial support is intended to “[cushion] the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis.”
The goal of a second IRS stimulus check is in part “putting much-needed money in the pockets of the American people,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a recorded statement. You can watch Pelosi, a California Democrat, speak about the legislation here.
Since the middle of March, more than 33 million US workers who have lost their jobs have filed for unemployment. The actual number of unemployed since governors and mayors locked down their states and cities to stop the spread of coronavirus is likely higher — perhaps millions higher — because many who are eligible didn’t file a jobless claim. With the job losses, the nation’s unemployment rate reached 14.7%. The newly unemployed, along with others taking an economic hit from the pandemic, might benefit from having more money right now to spend.
The argument against a second wave of relief payments
Some in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, question whether the relief measures have met their goals and want to tap the brakes before approving more federal spending to evaluate the effects of the already-approved relief packages. McConnell and others also worry how additional stimulus packages will increase the historic federal deficit.
“So let me state the obvious,” John Barasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming, tweeted on Tuesday. “What Nancy Pelosi is proposing will never pass the Senate.”
Because that payment is available in addition to regular jobless benefits and enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week, some critics have said it will make it harder to reduce unemployment ahead if people don’t feel incentivized to return to work. The original relief measure also provides a 15% boost in federal food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…….Read More>>