As another week in the stimulus check negotiations begins, another deadline looms. If lawmakers do not strike a deal on the coronavirus economic relief package by Friday, the stimulus check likely will not be distributed by the end of August, according to a report by Newsweek. The way these discussions have been going, some pundits and officials are not optimistic.
Newsweek spoke to Chad Hooper, national president of the Professional Managers Association, which represents managers at the Internal Revenue Service. Hooper said that if the stimulus check deal was made this week, it would probably leave his agency just enough time to get them out by the end of the month. "I think if something were signed by Friday, members of our association and their teams could possibly get some, if not all, of the funds distributed within August," he said. This is according to the new standard set by IRS and U.S. Treasury officials after the last stimulus check rollout, which took months.
"Getting checks out within two weeks is a lot more achievable now than it seemed back in March," Hooper said previously. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made a similar promise, saying: "If I could get it passed tomorrow, I could start printing them the following week. I could get out 50 million payments really quickly."
Still, even this faster distribution time is little comfort to Americans in need as the negotiations between Senate Republicans and Congressional Democrats rages on. The two sides are split on numerous aspects of the economic package, although when it comes to the stimulus check itself, they seem to agree.
Under either Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's HEALS Act or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's HEROES Act, the next stimulus check would be worth up to $1,200 based on income, with a similar structure of thresholds and limitations. The two sets are more divided over programs like the unemployment enhancement, coronavirus liability shields and student loan debt relief. While they work these details out, Hooper says that he and his colleagues are "concerned for America's taxpayers, many of whom are in need of financial support during this pandemic."
One of the central conflicts over the legislation is the price tag — McConnell's HEALS Act has a strict ceiling of $1 trillion, while Pelosi's HEROES Act reaches a record-breaking $3.4 trillion. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer defended this unprecedented spending on the Senate floor.
"The $3.4 trillion in the Heroes Act is based on the country's needs, which are so large and so diverse," he reportedly said. "It is not a political position; it is what our country needs: it's schools, it's businesses, it's renters, it's homeowners, it's essential workers, it's post office and it's elections, state and local governments and our health care system."