The coronavirus crisis has led to record filings of initial unemployment claims and an unprecedented shutdown of businesses across the country. In response, Congress passed the CARES Act, which entitles most Americans to receive emergency relief checks worth up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per dependent child.
But $1,200 doesn't go very far, and there are already some legislative proposals that would provide more coronavirus stimulus money to citizens in need.
Unfortunately, while there's bipartisan support for additional direct payments to Americans, there are also some big obstacles standing in the way. However, the longer the voluntary lockdown continues, the greater the possibility Americans will see additional coronavirus payments hit their bank accounts.
More stimulus funds proposed, but there are issues to overcome
For Americans hoping for additional stimulus money, the good news is there's some bipartisan support for additional aid. In fact, U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have offered suggestions for how to get more money into people's pockets.
One House proposal, the Emergency Money for the People Act, introduced by Democratic U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna and Tim Ryan, would provide $2,000 monthly payments for up to 12 months. The money would go to most Americans 16 and older, including college students and disabled Americans currently excluded from CARES Act stimulus payments if they're claimed as dependents.
In the Senate, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has proposed workers receive 80% of their wages, up to the national median wage, throughout the duration of the crisis -- with the federal government covering the bill.
And Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate are in favor of taking action, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi sending a letter urging the passage of a CARES 2 Act that would provide additional direct payments to families.
Sixty-two members of Congress also signed a letter suggesting monthly cash payments are needed for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. While the letter does not detail a specific policy proposal, it argues for "ongoing and robust" direct payments.
But while there is clearly ample support for more direct aid, some Republican members of Congress have pushed back on a fourth stimulus bill, cautioning against moving too quickly. And White House officials have indicated there are no current plans for an additional stimulus bill, although one cannot be ruled out.
A recent effort to add more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to companies that keep workers on the payroll, also failed due to disagreement over whether to include money for other coronavirus relief efforts. This suggests finding consensus on a fourth relief bill -- or passing a stand-alone bill to offer families more direct aid -- would likely be difficult right now.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle standing in the way of more stimulus money is the fact that Congress has recessed until May 4 with the goal of keeping lawmakers away from Washington to reduce the risk they'll be exposed to the virus.
While senators and representatives will be working remotely, any additional aid would need to be passed by unanimous consent during pro forma sessions absent a return to Washington. This is unlikely, as even one objection could prevent a bill from being passed.
If the great lockdown continues through May, however, and if unemployment numbers tick up, even reluctant lawmakers may feel pressured to jump on board with one of the plans to provide more stimulus money to struggling American families.
So while you likely won't see more coronavirus payments anytime soon, there's a very real possibility you could get another stimulus check if conditions don't improve dramatically by May.