Second Stimulus Check: Republicans Back off $40,000 Income Eligibility

As Senate Republicans' plans for the next coronavirus stimulus package come together, it now looks as if the package's stimulus check will look almost exactly like the economic impact payment included in March's CARES Act. This means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's idea that the payment would only be sent to those making $40,000 or less annually could be jettisoned. The CARES Act's one-time payment was sent to qualifying Americans who made at least $75,000 annually.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters the White House and Senators are discussing a $1,200 stimulus check that would be similar to the previous one. "We're talking about the same provision as last time, so our proposal is the exact same proposal as last time," Mnuchin said, reports The Hill. The CARES Act's one-time payment was $1,200 to individual Americans who made $75,000, while those who made between $75,000 and $99,000 qualified for a smaller check. Couples who earn $150,000 were eligible for a $2,400 check, and dependents under 17 received $500.

During the two-week July 4 recess, McConnell proposed a new income threshold in his efforts to keep the next stimulus package cost to $1 trillion. "I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. So that could well be a part of it," the Kentucky senator told reporters in his home state. However, a source told Bloomberg last week that a "cap at that level" was unlikely.

Democrats, whose support McConnell and the White House will still need to get another package passed, also spoke out against the threshold limit. "I think there are many families depending on size of family and so many different things, that the $40,000 would have to be explained, justified and the rest," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has also bristled at the package being limited to $1 trillion, said last week. "But I think families making over $40,000 probably need assistance. Again, just depending on their family situation." House Democrats previously passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which included another stimulus package. Senate Republicans have rejected the HEROES Act though.

McConnell plans to introduce the new stimulus package soon. There are just over two weeks before the next Senate recess begins on Aug. 10 and continues through Sept. 7. "We'll lay out the specifics," McConnell said on Tuesday. "I'm going to introduce a bill in the next few days that is a starting place that enjoys fairly significant support among Republican senators, probably not everyone. And, at that point, we'll be more specific about how to allocate. But we do envision direct checks again."