Like sands through the hourglass, time is still marching on and Washington now only has a few more days before the Senate begins its August recess to come to an agreement on the next coronavirus stimulus package. There does seem to be agreement on all sides that Americans need another direct stimulus check of at least $1,200, but there are still disagreements on other issues holding things up. If the planets align correctly though, Americans could see the new checks before the end of the month.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that both the White House and Congressional Democrats agree on some issues for the next stimulus package, including another stimulus check. He told ABC News' This Week the two sides agree on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans and the "checks in the mail," referring to the stimulus payments. Separately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's HEALS Act does include a new $1,200 stimulus payment sent directly to Americans.
The first Economic Impact Payment was included in the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March. The program sent qualifying individual Americans $1,200 if they filed their 2018 or 2019 federal taxes and earned $75,000 or less. Individuals who earned between $75,000 and $99,000 were still eligible for a check, but a smaller one. Couples who file jointly were eligible for $2,400 and dependents under 17 were eligible for $500. Considering the timeline for the CARES Act, here are some dates to remember for the next check.
August 7, when the Senate recess begins
McConnell did not introduce the HEALS Act until Monday, July 27, giving Congress just two weeks to negotiate terms of the package until the Senate's August recess begins. The recess is scheduled to start at the end of Friday, Aug. 7. If there are no changes made to the schedule, the Senate's next session does not resume until Sept. 8.
McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi do have the power to delay the recess in their respective chambers of Congress. In fact, Pelosi already has. On July 31, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that Pelosi has canceled the August recess and talks will continue until they finally reach an agreement on the coronavirus relief package, reports CBS News.prevnext
CARES Act timeline
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed swiftly in both the House and Senate and was the third coronavirus relief package, after the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act passed the Senate on March 25 and the House on March 26. President Donald Trump signed it on Match 27 and the first stimulus checks were sent out on April 15, notes CNET.prevnext
HEALS Act timeline
On April 24, Trump signed into law another coronavirus relief package, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which added funding for PPP and sent more funding to hospitals. It did not include another stimulus check, an issue the House sought to fix with May's $3 trillion HEROES Act. Republicans dismissed the package for two months, with McConnell deciding to create his own. The result was the HEALS Act, which was introduced on July 27.
Negotiations between Democrats and the White House began the same day the HEALS Act was introduced. If the final bill presented to the House and Senate is passed by Aug. 7 and Trump signs it on Monday, Aug. 10, it's possible first checks could be out as soon as Aug. 17. If the bill is not signed until after the Senate recess is over on Sept. 8, Americans might not see another check until Sept. 21.prevnext
The new stimulus check might arrive sooner than the first one
The new stimulus check might arrive sooner than the CARES Act check simply because the HEALS Act's program is very similar to the previous one. The IRS already built the "Get My Payment" tool to help taxpayers track their payments and provide the IRS with direct deposit information. The first round of checks only went directly to bank accounts if the IRS had banking information on hand for a taxpayer. Otherwise, they were mailed as physical checks or as pre-paid debit cards.prevnext
The Senate could delay its recess as well
The House's August recess has already been canceled, and the Senate could do the same if not enough progress is made this week. However, McConnell is still going to push for some votes on other issues, including the expired federal unemployment program, reports Politico. During a speech on the Senate floor Monday, McConnell slammed Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for till pushing the HEROES Act. Meanwhile, Pelosi and Schumer both told reporters they had a productive meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Monday.prevnext
The federal unemployment insurance is still the main point of contention
The most publicized sticking point between the White House, Senate Republicans and Congressional Democrats is the federal unemployment insurance, which has held back passing of a bill with another stimulus check. Democrats want to continue the $600-per-week benefit, which expired on July 31 and want it included in a larger package. Republicans want to lower it and did offer to keep the $600 payment going an extra week, but Democrats rejected that. McConnell plans to have the Senate vote on a proposal to send unemployed Americans just $200 per week and including a proposal from Sen. Ron Johnson. Republicans have also sought to keep the next stimulus package at $1 trillion, while Democrats believe it should be much higher.prev