Second Stimulus Checks: $3 Trillion Bill Passed in House of Representatives

The House of Representatives voted to pass a second stimulus bill on Friday designed to blunt the coronavirus pandemic's devastating effects on the economy and health care system. Proposed by House Democrats earlier this week, the $3 trillion bill would send a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to individuals (and up to $6,000 for a household) as well as financial relief for state and local governments as well as businesses.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that Congress had a "momentous opportunity" to meet people's needs, contending that "not acting is the most expensive course." "Not to act now is not only irresponsible in a humanitarian way, it is irresponsible because it’s only going to cost more,” warned Pelosi "More in terms of lives, livelihood, cost to the budget, cost to our democracy."

According to a summary, the new bill includes: nearly $1 trillion in relief for state and local governments; a second round of direct payments of $1,200 per person, and up to $6,000 for a household; about $200 billion for hazard pay for essential workers; $75 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing; an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment insurance benefit through January; $175 billion in rent, mortgage and utility assistance; subsidies and a special Affordable Care Act enrollment period to people who lose their employer-sponsored health coverage; more money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a 15% increase in the maximum benefit; measures designed to buoy small businesses and help them keep employees on payroll, such as $10 billion in emergency disaster assistance grants and a strengthened employee retention tax credit; money for election safety during the pandemic and provisions to make voting by mail easier; relief for the U.S. Postal Service.

The $3 trillion bill easily tops the $2.2 trillion cost of the late March stimulus package, which was the biggest emergency spending measure in U.S. history. Now that is has passed in the House, the Democratic-written plan could face potential roadblocks in the Senate, where it's unclear whether it would receive bipartisan support.

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On Thursday, The White House appeared to support a new round of stimulus checks, with two senior administrative officials telling CNBC as much. The White House did not provide further comment except to release a statement which said: "As President Trump has said, we are going to ensure that we take care of all Americans so that we emerge from this challenge healthy, stronger, and with economic prosperity, which is why the White House is focused on pro-growth, middle class tax and regulatory relief." The latest indication was some portions of the bill from the House were "DOA" according to The White House, setting the stage for a lot of debate over the coming days.

The legislation for first round of stimulus checks in March called for using past tax returns from either 2018 or 2019, whichever is most recent, to determine eligibility for a stimulus payment. The payments were up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,4000 for married couples who file jointly, plus $500 for qualifying dependents.