Another Round of Stimulus Checks? Inside the Government’s Proposed Relief Package

Millions of Americans are expecting another round of stimulus checks as part of the federal government’s new coronavirus relief package.

Today, Senate Republicans plan to propose another $1,200 in direct payments to eligible individuals to provide much-needed aid as the COVID-19 health crisis persists in the country. The program, called CARES Act 2, will then go up for debate in the Democrat-led House of Representatives. Following an agreement, the stimulus bill would head to President Donald Trump’s desk for enactment.

Yesterday, White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow suggested that the GOP-spearheaded measure would also provide an extension to unemployment benefits and the eviction moratorium for renters, plus liability protection for businesses and funding for schools. It is additionally expected to include tax incentives to encourage Americans to get back to work.

“The check is there,” he said on CNN. “The reemployment bonus is there. The retention bonus is there. There will be breaks for small tax credits for small businesses and restaurants. That’s all going to be there.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also mentioned the check on Fox News Sunday — a day after he told reporters at the Capitol that Americans could start receiving the second round of payments as soon as August.

“We’re prepared to move quickly,” he said, adding that Trump would “absolutely” support the Republicans’ rescue proposal. Lawmakers have until August 7 — before a monthlong recess — to make a decision.

Last week, the Labor Department reported that about 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 18 — an increase of 109,000 from the previous week’s revised level and higher than the 1.3 million expected by economists. It marked the first week that the number of applications climbed since March, when the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States, and paints a troubling picture for economic recovery as a recent spike in COVID-19 cases threatens the country’s reopening.

The CARES Act 2 — a followup to the historic bill of the same name that was passed in late March — could face challenges surrounding a proposed reduction in enhanced unemployment benefits, which is due to expire on Friday as scheduled.

Democrats are in favor of extending the $600-per-week extra payment, but Republicans and the Trump administration want to limit the payouts. Because some Americans take home more from the benefits than they did when they were employed, critics have argued that the weekly payments have created a disincentive to return to work.

Separately, Trump has repeatedly emphasized his desire to include a payroll tax cut, which has been taken off the table in negotiations for the next stimulus plan. Democrats oppose the idea, and even some Republican leaders have pushed back on its inclusion in the package.

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