Although around 35 million people are still waiting for their first coronavirus stimulus check, the majority of Americans have now received COVID-19 payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Many have already spent this money, largely to cover necessities as millions have been left unemployed due to government lockdown and the resulting coronavirus-driven recession.
Since the first stimulus payment did little to help American families, demand is high for a second check. And although it's far from certain there will be one, lawmakers are considering multiple proposals to send additional direct payments to Americans.
If you're waiting for politicians to act, there's a key date you should put on your calendar: Aug. 8. If a bill hasn't passed to send out more stimulus money by that date, chances are good it never will.
Why is Aug. 8 the key date to watch?
In order for Americans to receive another direct payment, a new coronavirus stimulus bill would have to pass both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
The house has already passed a bill, the HEROES Act, that would provide more stimulus money to Americans. And appetite is high among the Democratic-controlled chamber for an additional payment to struggling families. In the Republican-controlled senate, however, lawmakers have expressed concerns about the cost of additional stimulus money. And the HEROES Act has actually been declared dead-on-arrival by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, although the Kentucky Republican hasn't ruled out the possibility of providing more stimulus funds.
If the Senate can negotiate a deal for a stimulus bill that both Republicans and Democrats can live with, they'll have just a short time to pass it -- and Aug. 8 is the likely deadline. That's because the Senate is set to recess on that day and won't reconvene again until Sept. 8.
A month long break is likely to kill most or all of the momentum for an additional stimulus payment, especially if unemployment continues to decline, more states keep opening up businesses, and the economy is on the road to recovery by fall. Of course, things could change if there's a second wave of the coronavirus when summer weather starts to wane. However, early indicators suggest there's little appetite for another lockdown, so even if coronavirus cases rise, the economy may not take as big a hit as it did the first time.
The deadline is also just weeks away from the Nov. 3 presidential election. That means that unless there's a major public health disaster, there's a good chance much of the focus in the Senate after returning from the August recess will have shifted to other priorities, including confirming as many judges as possible and aiming to fulfill items on President Donald Trump's wish list before the country decides if he'll stay in office for another four years.
So if you're hoping for more stimulus funds, pay close attention over the next few weeks because if the Senate recess arrives and no bill has been passed, the chances of a second COVID-19 payment are very slim.