Americans have been desperate for financial relief ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy, plunging it into a recession. For months, in fact, there's been talk of a second stimulus check to follow the first round of payments that went out under the CARES Act.
In April, Americans began receiving their initial stimulus cash to the tune of up to $1,200 per eligible adult plus $500 per qualifying dependent. But many feel that a single stimulus check isn't enough given the extreme nature of the financial crisis our nation is facing. As such, lawmakers have been advocating for additional stimulus cash -- and so far, they've gotten nowhere.
In May, Democratic lawmakers introduced the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion relief package that calls for additional stimulus checks that would, for some families, be even more generous than the first round. But unfortunately, the HEROES Act has been stalled in the Senate and is unlikely to receive a passing vote, as Republicans, who control the Senate, have made it clear that it's too expensive.
There's also been debate as to whether a follow-up stimulus payment is even needed. Some lawmakers have argued that as the economy opens back up and more jobs are added, Americans will slowly but surely manage to get back on their feet without being handed a lump sum of cash. June's unemployment numbers, in fact, fuel this argument, with the jobless rate dropping down to 11.1%. In April, it was 14.7%, and in May, 13.3%.
But despite encouraging news on the jobless front, a second stimulus payment is still in the cards. And this week, Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, said that the While House is looking at a follow-up stimulus package totaling around $1 trillion. That package would likely include provisions for unemployment benefits, a payroll tax cut, and financial incentives for out-of-work Americans to return to a job. And while no specific number was tossed out with regard to a second stimulus payment, this could be some encouraging news for those who are struggling to keep up with their bills.
When will Americans know if they're getting relief?
In late June, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate will consider a second stimulus package at some point in July. But given that the Senate is on recess until July 20, it's unlikely that the public will get any concrete information before then.
Still, the fact that a top White House aide is throwing out a specific number is reassuring. Furthermore, with COVID-19 cases spiking all over the country, it's clear, now more so than ever, that the pandemic is far from over. When lawmakers introduced the HEROES Act, much of the country had yet to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases, as hotspots were largely concentrated in the Northeast. With the problem now being much more widespread, it's easier to make the case that Americans need financial relief in the face of additional shutdowns that could ensue if things don't improve in the very near future.
Of course, the last thing anyone should hope for is a worsening outbreak. But if that happens to be the situation when lawmakers reconvene on a stimulus package, it could actually increase Americans' chances of getting a second check.