With many Americans hoping for a second COVID-19 stimulus check due to pandemic-related economic stresses, one question is what form those checks would take, if they pass the Senate. There are some Republicans who favor a different approach than the first one: “Back-to-work” bonuses.
“Back-to-work bonuses would provide extra payments to people who return to work,” CNBC reports, noting that Republicans tend to favor this approach, including some members of the Trump administration.
As everyone knows, many people who qualified due to income limits received up to $1,200 stimulus checks in the first round, which was approved back in March. Many people are still suffering, and COVID-19 is showing no signs of abating and is, in fact, spiking in some states. Democrats in the House want a second round of stimulus checks, and they approved the HEROES Act to do just that in May.
According to CNBC, the second round of stimulus checks could get families as much as $6,000, and they’d also include people who were left out the last time, like adult dependents (many of whom are college students.) Unemployment insurance would also be extended.
However, the HEROES Act has run into a major roadblock: The Republican-controlled Senate, which hasn’t acted on it. How opposed are Republicans to the Democratic plan? According to CNBC, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) referred to the bill as “an unserious product from an unserious majority.” Still, President Trump has indicated support for a second round of stimulus checks, saying recently, “We will be doing another stimulus package, it will be very good, very generous.”
“It is going to happen, it’s just not going to happen yet,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said in late June, according to WFLA-TV. His comments came on June 26 after a GOP luncheon that focused on the issue. Other possibilities on the table include tax rebate checks and stimulus checks similar to the first round.
However, he expressed caution as to the form the checks would take, saying to WFLA-TV, “What you don’t want to do is have a reward given to people who don’t want to work.” The station reported that a payroll tax holiday is also on the table, and a second round of stimulus checks would be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate in July, if it occurs. That’s looking more likely now because of the president’s support; his problematic poll numbers in battleground states are weakening some Republican opposition to another round of checks.
It’s possible they could turn into “back-to-work” bonus checks instead.
Here’s what you need to know:
Top Republicans Floated the Idea of Back-to-Work Bonuses Back in May
At least one top Republican has floated making the second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks “back-to-work” bonuses instead. Back in May, Senator Rob Portman, D-Ohio, raised that idea instead of extending the federal unemployment insurance checks of $600 a week.
He told CNBC he was “talking to Republicans and Democrats about” giving people back-to-work bonuses instead.
“Why not provide a bonus to people to say, ‘If you go back to work, you can take some of this unemployment insurance with you.’ If you take $450, as an example, per week, remember this is per week, that would mean that in every state for minimum [wage] workers it would be more advantageous go back to work than to stay on unemployment insurance,” he said to the network then. “If you did a $450 bonus to workers, good for workers, they’re going to get their salary plus that.”
According to the Hill, a prominent GOP congressman introduced a similar plan for a “return to work bonus.” According to the Hill, the idea is “gaining traction among Republicans.”
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, introduced a proposal to give people who return to work after getting unemployment benefits up to $1,200.
“Through a Return To Work Bonus — which would allow workers to keep up to two weeks of unemployment benefits if they accept a job offer — we can make sure these temporary job losses don’t turn into permanent ones,” Brady said in a statement.
Both of their plans call for the checks to stop July 31.
Some States Have Already Implemented Back to Work Bonuses
The concept of a back-to-work bonus has already been embraced by some states. For example, in Idaho, people can get a bonus check if they lost their job because of COVID-19 but go back to work.
The official Idaho government website on the bonus checks says, “According to a recent study, more than 60 percent of Americans who are out of work as a result of the pandemic earn more with the enhanced unemployment benefits than they do from their normal wages. To offset this short-term unemployment benefit and get workers back into the workplace, a one-time bonus will be provided to each qualified employee.”
The site adds: “An Idaho employer can apply for the bonuses for their eligible employees. Awards will be $1,500 for full-time work, minimum of 30 hours per week, and $750 for part-time work, minimum of 20 hours per week, over the four weeks following return to work.”