The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law in March and provided most Americans with economic stimulus payments. It was the last meaningful relief Washington would provide, to date.
Now, months later, a new Gallup poll shows 70% of all U.S. adults believe the government should send another COVID-19 payment. That includes 82% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans, and 66% of independents. Prominent members of both political parties have also indicated more stimulus money is needed.
So, why don't you have another COVID-19 payment yet? There are a few key reasons lawmakers have yet to agree on a fifth coronavirus relief bill that would authorize another coronavirus check.
Lawmakers can't find consensus on these big issues
Democrats and Republicans have similar plans to provide a second stimulus check. Republicans want to keep the payments largely the same as those available under the CARES Act, except they'd make them available to more dependents. Democrats would prefer to expand the amount provided for dependents from $500 per dependent to $1,200 per dependent up to three and wouldn't require a Social Security number to receive the second payment, but otherwise didn't change much.
But while lawmakers could theoretically find agreement on a second stimulus check, they aren't going to pass a stand-alone bill addressing only this issue because they have other policy priorities. And that's where the problem comes in.
Democrats would prefer a very large stimulus package, with their proposed HEROES Act carrying a price tag of more than $3 trillion. They'd provide around $1 trillion to state, local, and tribal governments to cope with COVID-19-related costs and would extend the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits the CARES Act authorized (which expired at the end of July) until January 2021.
Republicans, on the other hand, would prefer to keep the total cost of more coronavirus relief to around $1 trillion and would provide far less funding to states. The Republican-proposed HEALS Act also offers smaller expanded unemployment benefits, provides broad protection to businesses from liability related to COVID-19 infections, and provides much more limited assistance for renters than the HEROES Act.
After weeks of negotiation, lawmakers haven't been able to compromise on these issues, so instead they've passed nothing. There was some hope they'd be forced to find an agreement if key lawmakers used an upcoming fight over government funding as leverage. The government is set to run out of money at the end of the month, and there was talk of Congress members refusing to authorize more funding if coronavirus relief wasn't included. But there's now a deal on the table to continue operations at current levels without COVID-19 aid, so the chances of a second stimulus check have shrunk.
Don't count on more COVID-19 money
There's good reason the majority of Americans support a second stimulus check. Many people are facing financial struggles. But with the upcoming election occupying lawmakers' attention and so many points of disagreement, it probably won't happen.
That means you should be looking for other ways to shore up your finances if you're struggling, or to make sure you can weather an extended recession if you're still in good shape. Hoarding cash, living on a crisis budget, and reviewing your investment portfolio are three key steps that can improve your financial security even if a second stimulus check never comes.