COVID-19 Stimulus Check: Will There Be a $40,000 Income Eligibility Cap?

Getty What is the August 7 deadline? Will the Senate still adjourn for their recess if a decision on a stimulus package is not reached?

Over the past few days, the prospect of a second stimulus check has gained momentum, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that another check could “very well be part” of the next coronavirus relief bill, according to Forbes.

McConnell specifically stated, “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less.”

But what would imposing a $40,000 income cap entail?

As the outlet pointed out, if an income limit of $40,000 was implemented, this would vastly reduce the number of Americans eligible for a second round of checks.

Kyle Pomerleau, an economist and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, tweeted on July 6 that instituting a $40,000 cutoff would mean sending checks to over 80 million Americans– under the CARES Act, over 159 million payments were sent by June 3, according to AARP.

Targeting Those Who Earn $40,000 a Year or Less

Forbes wrote that McConnell’s comments about individuals earning less than $40,000 shouldn’t be “overlooked.”

These sentiments were echoed by The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein, who tweeted, “Multiple sources say McConnell didn’t just throw out $40,000 as a cut-off haphazardly — consensus within GOP is moving that direction, which would sharply limit eligibility.”

Forbes wrote that this aligns with McConnell’s goal of making the second round of checks more “targeted.”

“I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” Forbes quoted Senator Ben Cardin as saying.

If a $40,000 cap is implemented, it’s unclear if payments would include an income phase-out. As Forbes wrote, it’s probably safe to assume that if a second payment is included in the next stimulus package, it would have higher income eligibility for joint-filers.

Lawmakers Resume Session July 20

The stimulus package on the table right now is the HEROES Act, which passed in the House of Representatives in mid-May. The legislation is now in the hands of the Republican-dominated Senate, who are on a two-week recess, slated to resume July 20.

WUSA-9 pointed out that while both Republicans and Democrats have “many common goals in boosting public health research toward treatments and a vaccine, the difference in the economic aid to Americans is stark.”

The outlet highlighted that while many Republicans oppose the weekly $600 to boost unemployment benefits, Democrats believe that amount is necessary to keep struggling Americans afloat.

When lawmakers return on July 20, they will continue negotiations on the details of the proposed stimulus package. They have just over two weeks to approve a second stimulus check; if that does not happen by their next recess, then Americans can expect negotiations to continue after September 8.

For now, we will have to wait to see how negotiations evolve in the Senate to determine whether a payment is likely, and who could qualify for that money.

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