Back in April, Americans started seeing the first -- and only -- economic impact payments hit their bank accounts and mail boxes.
The one-time payments were approved by Congress as part of an emergency relief package intended to bolster the economy as thousands lost their jobs at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
While some Americans started seeing the payments as early as April 10, others waited (and are still waiting) for their share of the $290 billion sent to help people get through the economic crisis. Morning Call reporter Paul Muschick even heard from about 50 people who received stimulus payments for deceased relatives, many of whom have been dead for years.
Now, talks of a second stimulus payment have reached a fever pitch as coronavirus case numbers surge again.
Here’s what we know about where those potential payments stand:
There seems to be a more solid timetable on when a second stimulus might be approved
According to Forbes, Senate Republicans have already drafted the stimulus proposal with input from the White House. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he supports another round of payments, and now it appears we’re closer than ever to seeing Congress pass what it says would be a final major economic relief bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly expected to present stimulus legislation next week when Congress returns from recess.
That current timeline could mean payments by August
Lawmakers have talked about passing a package before the next summer recess that begins in early August. In fact, lawmakers have said the deal could fall apart if it’s not done based on the Senate calendar.
Most Americans are unaware, but the time before the Senate goes on its next recess is pretty tight. They have just three weeks to construct, debate and pass another stimulus package. Aug. 7 is the last day of the next session, which means there’s limited time to get things done. In fact, just 15 working days total are available.
The Senate won’t reconvene for the next session until Sept. 8.
Lawmakers are arguing over who really needs relief
Yes, the momentum is there for a second stimulus payment. But lawmakers are arguing over eligible recipients.
McConnell has argued that a second stimulus should focus on lower-income Americans, and specifically highlighted those earning $40,000 or less. He hasn’t budged from that perceived cap with any kind of official public comment, even as the economy continues to slide and critical jobless benefits are set to expire.
On the flip side, Trump has talked about a “generous” stimulus and, in a Fox news interview, said that “I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats.” Some of those Democratic lawmakers have proposed recurring monthly payments or $2,000 checks.
If the limit were held to $40,000, it means millions of Americans would not get a second payment.
Economists think one more payment won’t really help much
A group of economists are calling on the government to distribute recurring checks until the coronavirus pandemic is under control and the economy gets stronger.
The letter, signed by 156 economists, said direct payments to Americans must be part of a “multifaceted response” to counter the continued economic uncertainty.
The letter was published by the Economic Security Project and the Justice Collaborative Advocacy group. In addition to recurring payments, the group asks for additional unemployment benefits, state and local aid, strong SNAP benefits, child care funding, and more.
“It it is clear at this point this recession will require significant and sustained stimulus policies that are responsive to the health of the economy,” the letter reads.
We rely on the support of our subscribers to fund our journalism as we continue to cover the coronavirus crisis. If you’re not already signed up, we hope you will consider subscribing. Already a print subscriber? If you haven’t already, please activate your digital access.
(c)2020 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
Visit The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) at www.mcall.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.