IRS Second Stimulus Checks: What Are the Roadblocks to It Passing?

There is still no stimulus legislation passed that includes a second economic income payment, and the simple reason for that is lack of agreement from Democrats and Republicans in Congress on what to do next. House Democrats already passed the $3.3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act back in mid-May on a mostly party-line vote, with some Democrats even voting against it. The package was quickly dismissed by Senate Republicans even before it passed, and the Senate still has not come up with its own package to present for a vote.

Back on June 10, Senator John Thune, a Republican of South Dakota, told CBS News and other reporters that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was looking at a "July time frame" for the next package. This would mean it could come after the Senate's two-week July recess ends on July 17. Thune explained at the time that the Senate has a packed calendar for the rest of June as McConnell focuses on approving President Donald Trump's judicial nominations and working on conservation and maintenance projects legislation. The Senate Armed Services Committee is also working on the 2021 defense authorization bill.

Congress has already passed four coronavirus relief packages, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which included the first Economic Income Payment. The IRS began sending these out in mid-April, with the last of them going out earlier this month. The payments were for $1,200 per American taxpayer with an unadjusted gross income of $75,000 or less and double for joint-filers. Dependents under 17 received $500 added to the head-of-household's payment. Since many have argued that this one-time payment was not enough assistance, there have been a handful of proposals floating around Washington.

The CARES Act also included the $600 per week federal unemployment benefit, which is set to expire on July 31. The HEROES Act included an extension for the benefit through January 2021, but the White House has argued against extending it. This would be one of the issues the Senate has to iron out if it looks to get any bipartisan support for another package.

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Republicans have previously voiced support for letting the CARES Act run its course. In late May, McConnell told Fox News that "only about half of that money has gone out." Congress needs "to be able to measure the impact of what we've already done, what we did right, what we did wrong [and] correct that" before another relief package is passed. In that same interview, McConnell said there is a "high likelihood" of another package, but it will not be a "$3 trillion left-wing wish list" like the HEROES Act.

Trump has shown support for a second stimulus check, but he has also supported another idea. The "Explore America" Tax Credit would give Americans up to $4,000 for vacation expenses inside the U.S. through the end of 2021. However, it seems unlikely since the administration has not mentioned it since Trump first brought it up in May, notes Forbes. On June 9, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told The Wall Street Journal the odds of a "Phase Four" stimulus package are "very, very high."