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Will Americans Get a Stimulus Check #2?

Dana has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years, specializing in loans, debt management, investments, and business.

It was unlikely that just one round of stimulus checks would be enough to rev the economy. Now, Congress is considering a second go at it.

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a second stimulus bill, dubbed the HEROES Act, which stands for the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act. The $3 trillion relief package is designed to inject money into the economy and support those most impacted by the novel coronavirus. The HEROES Act may offer hope to millions of Americans in need of help, but the White House and Senate declared the bill "dead on arrival" before the ink was dry.

The bill has now passed from the House to the Senate. With politicians lining up along party lines, it will be nearly impossible to pass the HEROES Act in its current form. It is probable that a new stimulus bill will be negotiated, with each side compromising.

The House version

We don't yet know how much of the House's original bill will be included in the compromise. But here are some key aspects of what it hoped to provide to hard-hit Americans:

  • $1 trillion to help state, local, and tribal governments pay frontline workers
  • $200 billion in hazard pay to essential workers
  • $175 billion in housing assistance
  • $75 billion to ramp up coronavirus testing and tracing
  • An extension of the COVID-19 unemployment program, due to expire in July 2020. The bill would extend the program until January 2021 and continue to add an extra $600 per week to unemployment benefits.
  • A second stimulus check for individuals. Like the first check, it would be a one-time payment of $1,200. However, if you have children, you may receive more this time around. The first round of stimulus provided $500 for each dependent under the age of 17. The new legislation would allow $1,200 for each household member, up to a maximum of $6,000 per household.

The debate is on

Debate over the size and scope of the HEROES Act began before the bill left the House floor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already insisted that the Senate will not agree to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, and called the bill "a liberal wish list."

Still, McConnell does concede the need for a new relief package, although negotiations will not begin right away. According to Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, it will be after the Memorial Day holiday before the Senate addresses the issue. Even if the Senate can get a bill together quickly, it is not clear how fast the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be able to distribute checks. According to the IRS, approximately 10 million Americans are still waiting for their first stimulus check to arrive.

Reason to believe Americans will receive a stimulus check #2

We can't know for certain whether a second stimulus check is coming, but the impact of COVID-19 on the economy is undeniable. More than 38 million American workers have filed for unemployment in the past eight weeks, and that number does not account for the millions who are unemployed but ineligible to file a claim. Even if lawmakers pass a new stimulus bill for purely political reasons, Congress cannot ignore unemployment rates at levels not seen since the Great Depression, businesses shuttered, and an economy that feels as though it's on life support.

Even those constituents who are still employed are nervous. According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, 47% of adults have either lost their jobs or live in a household with someone who has lost theirs. Further, 39% say they expect that they, or someone else in their home, will become unemployed in the next four weeks.

Job loss and economic anxiety help explain why the sale of existing homes declined 17.8% between March and April, and why Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, has called for more economic relief from Congress.

The sheer weight of the economic challenges facing Americans today suggests that another stimulus package is inevitable. However, whether that package will include checks, how much those checks will be, and when that money might hit your bank account is anyone's guess.

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