It's been months since COVID-19 first presented as a domestic threat, and its impact on the U.S. economy has been huge. Not only has it spurred a recession, but it's also driven millions of Americans into unemployment. And while the country is slowly but surely beginning to open up, our recovery could still be a long ways off.
It's for this reason that there's been lots of buzz about a second stimulus check. Americans started receiving a first round of stimulus cash back in April, and at this point, the majority of people who were eligible for those initial payments already have them in hand. But will a second stimulus check come to be? Here's what we do and don't know so far.
1. Has a second stimulus check officially been approved?
No. Lawmakers have been debating whether a second stimulus check is necessary, and right now, different relief packages are being proposed. There's been no official vote on a stimulus package and there likely will not be one prior to July.
2. What's the difference between a stimulus package and a stimulus check?
A stimulus package will outline relief measures that could involve, among other things, extra unemployment benefits or payroll tax relief for working Americans. But it won't necessarily include a stimulus check that will go out to Americans directly. The first stimulus payments that went out were part of the CARES Act, which was a $2 trillion relief package.
3. Who gets to decide whether a second stimulus check comes to be?
For a stimulus package to go through, it must pass a Senate vote. The HEROES Act, which calls for a follow-up round of stimulus payments, has already made it through the House of Representatives. But since Republicans control the Senate, and they've already voiced their opposition to the HEROES Act, it's unlikely to be voted in.
4. If a second stimulus check is approved, how much will it be worth?
We really don't know. The HEROES Act calls for $1,200 in stimulus cash per adult whose income falls below a certain threshold, plus another $1,200 per child, up to a maximum of three children per household. With that proposal, some families could receive a $6,000 lump sum. But again, the HEROES Act is unlikely to go anywhere, and while President Trump has hinted at a bipartisan relief package, it's too soon to know exactly what amount of stimulus cash, if any, it will include.
5. Who will be eligible for a second stimulus check?
Again, we don't know. Higher earners were excluded from the first round of stimulus payments that went out under the CARES Act. Specifically, to receive a full $1,200 stimulus check, recipients needed an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less as single tax filers, or $150,000 or less as couples filing jointly. We don't know if these same thresholds will come into play if a second stimulus payment is approved. We also don't know if dependents aged 17 or older will be eligible for stimulus cash in a second round; they were excluded from the first round.
Sit tight and hope for the best
President Trump recently stated that he expects a second stimulus bill to pass in the not-so-distant future, and he even went so far as to call it a generous one. Whether that relief package actually includes stimulus checks is yet to be determined, but we should know a lot more come July when lawmakers convene to hammer out a proposal.