Despite initial optimism surrounding the prospect of another stimulus check, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now voicing their skepticism about a second round of payments.
On May 15, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a stimulus relief package known as the HEROES Act, which would include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to qualifying Americans. While that particular version of the bill was always likely to face opposition in the Republican-dominated Senate, President Trump insinuated that another round of payments was likely. In early May, Trump said at a press briefing, “We could very well do a second round of direct payments. It is absolutely under serious consideration.”
Even Senate Republicans, such as Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, suggested that another relief check was on its way. WWLTV reports Kennedy as saying, “… if we do another bill, it will be to give relief to people and to businesses.”
Now, however, optimism about another stimulus check seems to be dwindling. On Tuesday, Republicans said they hope to shift their focus to Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program rather than sending Americans checks, according to AS.com.
Will There Be a Second Stimulus Check?
AS.com quotes Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) as saying, “Most folks are very grateful for the help at that point, but I don’t think we should set up a situation where we’re doing a check month after month after month.”
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) echoed those sentiments, describing another round of rebate checks as “unlikely.” He said that, instead, Congress would be looking into unemployment benefits and “aid to states and cities and towns.”
The Hill quotes Romney as saying, “… I think it’s important for us to consider how we’re going to pay for all this and specifically how we’re going to deal with the structural deficit we have that adds a trillion to the debt every year. I hope that’s part of the next package.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has also voiced opposition to a second round of checks. “I’m not enthused about another round of rebate checks,” he said. “I do believe we should be helping people on Social Security because the price of food has gone up and I don’t see any end in sight. A payment to Social Security recipients who are on fixed income of $50,000 and below might make sense.”
Senate Democrats Have Proposed Their Own Stimulus Check Bill, but It’s Unlikely to Gain Support From the GOP
On Monday, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris and fellow former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang held a public forum about a second stimulus program. Harris suggested the government should do something to help people.
“Forty million–plus people lost their jobs within the last 100 days. The government should be here for the people in a moment of crisis. People should be able to count on their government to see them and to create a safety net for them, so that these people don’t fall into poverty—or further into poverty—during the course of this pandemic,” Harris said, according to Fortune.
Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Senator Ed Markey have proposed a bill, the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, that would deliver payments to American citizens retroactive to March. Americans making up to $120,000 annually would earn $2,000 per month, with payments gradually reduced for those who make more than $100,000. Those with children would receive $2,000 per child, with a maximum of $6,000. The bill is not likely to gain support in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Yang, who proposed a “Freedom Dividend” policy during his presidential campaign that would give a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to every American, said during the town hall, according to Fortune, “We’re facing a new Great Depression, but there are legislators that have bills on the table that, if enough Americans get behind [them], we can pass today .What I fought for on the campaign trail is not hypothetical. We have tens of millions of Americans whose lives are disintegrating before our eyes, and we have to tell our government to get its shit together and get money out to the people.”
When Will a Vote on the HEROES Act Take Place?
According to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not scheduled a vote on a Senate relief package before July 4. The bill would need to pass in the Senate, and be signed by the president, in order to become law.
Democrats, many of whom have championed the HEROES Act, have also shifted their focus to the passing of a law enforcement reform bill following the outrage and protests surrounding the death of George Floyd.
On Tuesday, The Hill points out, Democrats “pressed for a resolution to condemn Trump’s order to disperse peaceful protesters in front of the White House Monday and to bar the president from deploying U.S. troops against peaceful protesters on American soil.”
Senate Republican Whip John Thune has said the sea of protests taking place across the country and the world, “‘could’ delay the next round of economic relief talks,” according to The Hill.
While it was once a matter of time before Americans could expect another round of coronavirus relief checks to be issued, it now seems unlikely that that money will ever end up in their accounts.