When the Senate finally gets back in session on Monday, one of the first things Senators will likely begin working on is another stimulus package to help the U.S. economy during the coronavirus pandemic. Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans are looking at including a second stimulus check but are also looking to keep the size of the package down, it is beginning to look like the check may not be as big as the first one. Qualifying Americans received at least $1,200 from the CARES Act, passed back in March.
McConnell has discussed keeping the overall cost of the next stimulus package to $1 trillion, about a third of the size of the HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May. In Kentucky this week, McConnell said the "focus" of his stimulus bill will be "kids in school, jobs and healthcare." White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox Business on July 10 the next stimulus check would be less than $1,200. Trump has repeatedly said he is in favor of a second stimulus check. The president even told Fox Business on July 1 that he supports "larger numbers than the Democrats, but it's got to be done properly."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that more than $1 trillion will be needed for another stimulus due to the other needs the country faces. "A trillion dollars is, OK, that's an interesting starting point, but it doesn't come anywhere near," Pelosi said on July 9, notes CNet. "We need $1 trillion for state and local [assistance]. We need another $1 trillion for unemployment insurance and direct payments. We need something like that, but probably not as much, for the [coronavirus] testing, tracing, treatment." She later added that the idea it can "only" be $1 trillion "doesn't measure up."
One way to keep the cost of the stimulus package down while still providing Americans with a stimulus check is changing up the qualifications. Last week, McConnell began floating the idea of targeting the stimulus checks for low-income Americans making $40,000 or less. "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," he said on July 6 in Kentucky.
The first stimulus check was included in the $2.1 trillion CARES Act, and some Americans are still waiting for it. The IRS began sending them out in mid-April. Americans who filed taxes for 2018 or 2019 and made $75,000 or less received $1,200. Couples who filed together and earned a combined $150,000 or less received a $2,400 economic impact payment. Dependents under 17 could receive $500, which was added to the payment sent to the person who claimed them. The HEROES Act also included a $1,200 payment, but the act is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate and is not law.