WASHINGTON – Americans have yet to receive their $1,200 stimulus checks from the federal government, but another round of cash payments could be coming their way.
Talks are under way between the Trump administration and Congress on another recovery package to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. A second round of cash payments to Americans is part of the discussions.
“We could very well do a second round,” President Donald Trump said at a White House news conference on Monday. “It is absolutely under serious consideration.”
Congress already has approved three stimulus bills to juice the economy amid the coronavirus crisis. The largest is a $2.2 trillion economic recovery package that provides one-time payments of up to $1,200 to millions of Americans, as well as loans, grants and tax breaks for businesses reeling from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic.
Republican congressional leaders had questioned the need for an additional stimulus package but have acknowledged that further needs will likely arise. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated Tuesday that any new legislation “will need to be tailored to the actual needs of our nation.”
Here’s a look at what might be included in the next stimulus bill:
Like Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been talking about more direct payments to Americans. She told House Democrats on a conference call on Monday that the next coronavirus package could easily surpass $1 trillion and that help for small businesses and families could be part of the deal.
Some Democrats also have suggested offering help to those not included in the last legislation, young people not eligible for checks in the last bill.
The last stimulus bill, which Trump signed into law on March 27, called for one-time payments of up to $1,200 to those making up to $75,000. Joint filers who earn up to $150,000 would get $2,400. The payments will start to phase out at the $75,000 threshold for single filers and $150,000 for joint returns. They will completely phase out for single filers with incomes exceeding $99,000, $136,500 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for joint filers with no children.
The Internal Revenue Service says it will start distributing the checks next week via direct deposit. Checks will be mailed to those who have not provided their direct deposit information to the IRS.
Even so, many lawmakers argue that more checks may be needed to help Americans weather losses of income during the coronavirus crisis.
Coronavirus stimulus:Who will get $1,200 checks and when will they be sent out?
Health care workers on the front lines in the battle against coronavirus might get “hazard pay” in the next package.
Trump already has embraced the idea, suggesting the money could come in the form of bonuses.
Senate Democrats are also pushing for similar bonuses.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democrats unveiled a plan this week that would increase pay for essential workers, including those in the healthcare field, in sanitation and who work at grocery stores. The fund would increase pay up to $25,000, or $13 an hour, from the start of the crisis to the end of the year.
“Thousands of workers report to the frontlines of our nation’s pandemic response each and every day, placing themselves squarely in harm’s way to serve the needs of others,” Schumer said.
Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly cited the need to repair the nation’s aging infrastructure as an area where they could find common ground since Pelosi and Democrats reclaimed the majority in the House more than a year ago.
Trump called last month for a $2 trillion bill to fix the nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels and suggested it should be included in the next coronavirus package.
“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” he wrote on Twitter.
Pelosi also has argued for making infrastructure the centerpiece of the next stimulus bill but appeared to switch course last week.
She said she’d like to see more money for state and local governments, small businesses and to extend provisions in the next stimulus bill, but suggested infrastructure might have to wait. The $2.2 trillion recovery package approved last month is “a good model” for passing the next stimulus bill because it attracted bipartisan support, she said
Pelosi and state Democratic officials have advocated that states should receive additional funding to support mail-in and absentee voting.
A group of 51 state Democratic Party chairs signed a letter last month urging Congress to give states at least $2 billion to help them expand early voting, vote by mail, voter registration and voter education.
“Action to safeguard our electoral system cannot wait,” they wrote. “In a matter of weeks, millions of Americans across several states will be asked to vote in municipal and primary elections, and they deserve better than the impossible choice between preserving their well-being and casting their ballots.”
The $2.2 trillion coronavirus package that Trump signed into law included $400 million to help states with their primary and general elections during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Pelosi and House Democrats had sought $4 billion in state election assistance, along with same-day voter registration requirements and for states to have at least 15 days of early voting. The final stimulus bill did not include any requirements for how states must spend the $400 million.
Trump called such provisions “totally crazy” and said that if, if they had passed, “you would never have a Republican elected in this country again.”