Remember the second stimulus check?
Members of Congress have many things on their minds between now and election day, but sending another direct payment of $1,200 to U.S. workers, is not one of them.
A second round of COVID-19 relief for America’s middle-and-low income workers has taken a back seat to passing a funding bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government open and confirming (or not) a new Supreme Court justice.
Oh yes, there is also the matter of getting re-elected on Nov. 3.
The strange thing about the second stimulus check is that all parties involved – Democrats, Republicans and President Trump – said they favored passage of a bill to renew the $1,200 payment to workers making less than $75,000, but none were enthusiastic enough about it to make compromises needed to pass legislation.
In fact, the Senate’s latest stimulus-relief package, voted down on Sept. 17, didn’t even mention a second stimulus check.
The “Skinny” Stimulus Proposal
The $650 billion “skinny” proposal, authored by Senate Republicans, offered help for added unemployment benefits; money to re-supply the Paycheck Protection Program ($250 billion); schools ($150 billion); farmers ($20 billion); childcare services ($10 billion); and $47 billion for pandemic testing, tracing and vaccine development.
But not a dime for another stimulus check.
The “skinny” deal’s total package of $650 billion was a noticeable mark down from the $1 trillion HEALS Act Republicans proposed in July and about a fifth of the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act the House of Representatives passed on May 15.
Both of those deals had provisions for the $1,200 stimulus check. The “skinny” bill did not and died quickly in the Senate chambers.
“Working families have suffered and waited and wondered whether Washington Democrats really care more about hurting President Trump than helping them through this crisis,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after the failed vote on his “skinny bill.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded: “This was a fairly transparent attempt to show the Republicans are doing something when, in fact, they want to do nothing.”
So, what happens next?
Congress has made it clear that easing the financial strain felt by 30 million people who are unemployed, helping the estimated 5.4 million people in danger of being evicted and sending a $1,200 hit to millions of financially challenged Americans, is not a priority.
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) probably hit it right on the head when he said: “I think both parties want to get out of here and campaign.”
We’ll see if they feel the same way after the Nov. 4 election.
When Will They Vote on the Second Stimulus Check?
It does not appear there will be a vote on the second stimulus check, at least not until after the Nov. 3 election.
The Senate held a vote on a “skinny” version of the COVID-19 relief that offered help for unemployment benefits, the PPP program, schools, childcare and testing, but had nothing in it for a second stimulus check.
At least 20 Republican senators do not like the idea of a second stimulus check or anymore coronavirus relief help and probably will stand in the way of any future attempts to make it happen.
How Much Is the Second Stimulus Check?
If it’s ever approved, the second stimulus check will mirror the first stimulus check, which was $1,200 for single filers and $2,400 for married couples. That is based on incomes of $75,000 (or less) for individuals and $150,000 (or less) for married couples. There is also a $500 payment for each dependent (up to three). Under the CARES Act, eligible dependents had to be age 17 or younger. Under the HEALS Act, there is no age requirement for dependents.
Who Qualifies for the Second Stimulus Check?
Here is another factor that may change dramatically for a final bill to get through both the House and Senate. Once again, both sides found the $75,000 income as an agreeable qualifying standard.
However, last July, McConnell said he wanted the money to go to “people who need it the most” and singled out workers making less than $40,000 a year. That qualifying standard would cost a whole lot less money, which might change the minds of the 20 Republican senators who don’t like this idea at all.
That might make them happy, but it would not go over at all with Democrats. They are shooting for the full $1,200 for everybody making under $75,000. If the bill does eventually pass, it likely will include people closer to $75,000 than $40,000.
The people who really need to worry are those who earned between $75,001 and $99,000. Benefits for that group of people are a prime target for more financial compromise. They received “partial” stimulus checks in the original CARES Act, based on a formula that subtracted $50 for every $1,000 they made over $75,000.
For example, someone making $80,000 received a stimulus check of $950. Someone making $90,000 received $450. Someone making $95,000 received $200. People earning $100,000 got $0.
There would be some savings by eliminating that group from second stimulus check benefits, but not much.
When Will I Receive the Second Stimulus Check?
At the moment, you will not receive a second stimulus check. There have been enough negotiating sessions for a compromise COVID-19 relief bill to be reached … if the two sides were even close.
They are not. This likely won’t come up again after the Nov. 3 election. If you really think this is going to happen, better hope the election results go your way and maybe by February there will be enough members of Congress getting along to push a compromise bill through.
How Will the Second Stimulus Check Be Delivered?
If your bank account information is already on file with the IRS, it should be a seamless process. You will get a direct deposit expeditiously. Or the check will be in the mail within two weeks of the first payments going out.
It will take longer if you aren’t registered with the IRS. If you’re not at the front of the line, your payment might be sandwiched with other IRS materials, such as tax returns.
The IRS also offers a “Get My Payment’’ locator tool from the U.S. Postal Service. It will send you an image of the letter once it has been processed. You can follow it all the way to your mailbox.
Will There Be a Third Stimulus Check?
Let’s not go there. Getting a second stimulus check has been enough aggravation for one year. McConnell has said this will be the “final’’ coronavirus relief package. “There definitely won’t be another one,’’ he said.
Let’s hope the nation and economy recover quickly enough from the current coronavirus problems to make that happen.