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White House and congressional leaders may begin work on a second stimulus package in the coming weeks.


Angela Lang/CNET

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The fate of the second stimulus check seems to rest on two things: how badly the economy is faring and if lawmakers believe a direct payment to millions of people is the best way to respond to the recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The other question — and a pressing one for people worried about paying their rent — is simply this: when?

Here’s what you need to know today:

  • On Thursday, fresh numbers from the Labor Department revealed that first-time unemployment claims hit 1.5 million last week, making 14 straight weeks new claims have been over 1 million.
  • President Donald Trump seems optimistic about a summer bailout package that includes another check. Responding to a reporter’s question on Monday about whether Washington will send a second round of direct payments to Americans, the president said, “It will be very good. It will be very generous.”
  • This echoes a statement made last week. “I think we’re working on something that’s going to be very dramatic, very good,” Trump said about the checks.
  • Congress is expected to make a decision in July. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said repeatedly if Congress begins work on a second stimulus package, it will happen in July.

What exactly “generous” and “dramatic” mean in monetary terms, who would and wouldn’t get a check and when the IRS would actually send the checks are questions still largely unanswered. There’s also been talk of a $4,000 travel credit that’s piqued some interest. 

Read on for what we know today and what it will take to get more stimulus money in your pocket. Here are the different government proposals we’ve heard so far. This story updates frequently with new information and is intended to provide an overview of the situation. If you’re still waiting on the first round, you can track the status of your stimulus check, see some possible reasons why you don’t have a check yet and learn how to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS.

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Congress is expected to start work soon on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.


Angela Lang/CNET

Stimulus check timeline: When exactly to expect a decision

Congress hasn’t set a date for a vote on a second stimulus package, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hasn’t wavered from his July projection. 

“If there’s another [stimulus package], it will come together in July,” McConnell said Friday. “We need to take a look at how the economy is coming back and decide whether or not we’re going to do one last rescue package. And I predicted we’d make that decision in July and I’ll continue to say that today.” The second relief package could very well be the last, he has previously said.

White House officials also anticipate that the executive branch will work on its own proposal through July, The Wall Street Journal reported in early June. Before White House and Republican leaders begin negotiating the details of a new stimulus proposal, they want to evaluate how much money allocated to the first stimulus checks and other aid for businesses has actually been spent, CNBC reported.

When the Senate, House and White House negotiators do begin negotiations, they’ll be under pressure to reach a deal quickly, as the enhanced unemployment allowances for an additional $600 per month are set to expire July 31. 

Do we still need a second stimulus check? The unemployment debate heats up

Is a second stimulus check necessary? That question is at the heart of this debate. Weekly jobless claims continue to show a US economy struggling to find its footing. For the week ending June 20, 1.48 million workers filed first-time jobless claims, making 14 straight weeks new claims were over 1 million, the Labor Department reported (PDF). Claims were down slightly from the 1.5 million of the week before.

A new study (PDF) by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University advanced that without the stimulus money, America’s poverty level could have spiked from 12.5% before the pandemic to 16.3% today. 

The center predicted “if high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will be needed” to keep poverty from soaring during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The study also notes the categories of people who aren’t eligible to receive the funds authorized by the CARES Act and that some eligible families are facing roadblocks receiving their benefits. The expanded unemployment benefits keeping some afloat are set to expire at the end of July.

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A second stimulus bill could be the last for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.


Angela Lang/CNET

On June 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (PDF) that the US unemployment rate in May declined by 1.4% to 13.3%. Following the labor report, some in Washington asked if the US economy is already heading in the right direction without further government assistance. 

“It takes a lot of the wind out of the sails of any Phase 4,” Stephen Moore, a White House adviser, said about the May job numbers and a second stimulus package, as quoted in The Washington Post. “We don’t need it now. There’s no reason to have a major spending bill. The sense of urgent crisis is very greatly dissipated by the report.”

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OECD/Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Others in Washington caution against reading too much into one month’s unemployment numbers. A report from the OECD earlier in June says COVID-19 has “triggered the most severe economic recession in nearly a century.” 

“There is good reason to be skeptical,” wrote former White House economic adviser Robert J. Shapiro, pointing to other numbers that suggest the jobless rate in May rose by 5.7% to 19%. Whatever the real May jobless numbers turn out to be, the US economy in February entered a recession, ending an economic expansion that started in June 2009, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported this month. 

Even with a reduced May unemployment rate, the US still has one of the highest rates of out-of-work job-seekers in the world, according to the OECD report.


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How much money a second stimulus check could bring

It’s too soon to pinpoint how much money individuals and families could receive. First, it depends on the size of the rescue package as a whole. This figure has already drawn fierce debate, with the House proposing $3 trillion, McConnell seeking a $1 trillion cap and the president suggesting at least $2 trillion in June, according to White House trade advisor Peter Navarro. 

Then it depends how much of the package would be allocated for individuals and families. Remember that the CARES Act that passed in March also included money for small businesses and enhanced unemployment benefits. For reference, the first stimulus check gave individuals up to $1,200 with a total of $2,400 for couples who file for taxes jointly. Dependents under 17 years old netted another $500 apiece. 

Here’s a snapshot of who’s eligible for the first check, based on how you file for taxes:

  • Single US residents who have an adjusted gross income less than $99,000
  • Heads of household who earn under $146,500
  • Couples that file jointly without children and earn less than $198,000

Nonresident people who aren’t citizens (termed nonresident aliens) and people who are currently incarcerated did not qualify for the first stimulus check.

Is the IRS done sending the first wave of stimulus checks?

While it’s already made tens of millions of stimulus payments to eligible Americans, the IRS has more to go. As of June 3, the agency had made 120 million payments as direct deposit to bank accounts, 35 million as mailed checks and nearly 4 million as mailed prepaid debit cards, for 159 million payments total. The House Ways and Means Committee estimated (PDF) as many as 35 million Americans could still be owed a payment.

If you didn’t get your money yet, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay. If you’re worried you were supposed to receive your check and didn’t, here’s what you can do

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Even with some businesses starting to open, the US has a staggeringly high unemployment rate.


Angela Lang/CNET

What will it take to get a second stimulus check and what happens now?

For now, we wait for July, when Washington plans to begin work on the next stimulus package. To receive a second check, the proposed rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect. After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could be weeks more before you receive a payment.

We’ll continue to update this story with new information as it arises. While the future of a second stimulus bill remains undecided, we’ll share available resources about coronavirus hardship loans and  unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.

source: cnet.com

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