Second stimulus check for $1,200? $2,000? What the proposals may mean for you

July 9, 2020

What we know about a second stimulus package and the possibility of another wave of direct payments for Americans.

Another coronavirus rescue package to help keep the US economy from plunging even deeper into recession is inching closer to reality, and a second stimulus check could very well be part of it. The question remains: How much of an IRS payment could you see?

“I’ll be unveiling something, which will be a starting place, in a few weeks,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, July 6, 2020 about a new stimulus package, at an event in Bardstown, Kentucky. And a new payment for individuals and families “could well be part of it,” he added.

Over the last couple of weeks, other Congressional leaders and White House advisers have also shifted how they talk about a new stimulus payment, suggesting it’s more likely to happen than not. As for the money? Proposed amounts range from a single $1,200 payment up to $2,000 per month through the end of the pandemic. We’ll take a look at the current proposals.

How much money would a second stimulus check get you?

Washington leaders are talking about these possible stimulus figures for individuals:

• Nothing. Congress could focus its stimulus efforts on tax breaks for businesses as a way to boost US job numbers.
• A $1,200 maximum single payment for individuals. Proposed by the Heroes Act passed by the House of Representatives. (This is not law. More below.)
• More money for individuals than the Heroes Act proposes, as referenced by President Donald Trump on July 1.
• A $2,000 monthly payment through the end of the pandemic and for three months after. Proposed by Sen. Kamala Harris.
• $2,000 a month for up to 12 months. Proposed by Rep. Ro Khanna.
• A $4,000 temporary travel tax credit. Proposed by the US Travel Association, after Trump embraced the idea in May. Sen. Martha McSally took the idea further and proposed a bill (PDF) that would give couples a $8,000 tax credit to cover travel expenses plus $500 for each qualifying child.
• A payroll tax cut, proposed by Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials, that would allow workers to keep more of their paychecks.

These figures represent the maximum sum we’ve heard. As with the first stimulus check, it’s almost certain that Congress will include eligibility restrictions based on how much money you make annually, your age, the number of dependents you have and your US citizenship or residency status.

What does President Trump and his administration say about a second stimulus check?

The president has, over the past few weeks, come out as a firm advocate of a second round of direct payment to Americans.

“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats,” the president said last week, referring to the $1,200-per-person amount the Democrat-led House of Representatives proposed in May. The Washington Post reported in June that the president has told aides he is largely supportive of sending a second round of checks to Americans.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow echoed the president’s support, telling Fox Business last week, “Direct checks are probably going to be part of it, as far as the president is concerned right now.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also expressed support, telling reporters at a White House briefing, “We’re going to serious[ly] consider whether we’re going to put more payments and direct payments over. It worked very well.”

Further, Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell made the case for more stimulus money in prepared remarks before the House committee on Financial Services on June 30. “A full [economic] recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to re-engage in a broad range of activities,” Powell said. “The path forward will also depend on the policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief and to support the recovery for as long as needed.”

The Senate’s view? Timing, smaller package, maybe no money at all

McConnell has consistently stated that the Senate will decide this month whether Americans will see a second stimulus check. “If there’s another one, it will come together in July,” he said in June.

And the majority leader is optimistic about a second package: “I think we will do something again. I think the country needs one last boost,” he said.

His Republican colleague Sen. Roy Blunt seconded the July timeline. “I think the [July] timing is going to be just about right for us to know what we need to know for a package that moves us into August, September and October,” Blunt said June 30.

And while the Senate has not offered many specifics on what it will include in its proposal, McConnell has been clear what it won’t. “I can’t tell you what the amount is likely to be at this point, but it won’t be $3 trillion,” McConnell said late last month. He has previously stressed that the focus of another bill will be narrow and, if approved, will be the last. Republican senators are focused on including incentives to bring people back to work.

A $1,200 one-time payment from the House’s Heroes Act?

The Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act on May 15. The bill, which has not passed the Senate and is not law, seeks larger payments for more family members, according to a fact sheet from the House Appropriations Committee (PDF). McConnell has already dismissed the bill, as has the president, who has called it DOA. Here are the broad outlines of the House coronavirus bill:

• Individuals: An eligible person could receive up to $1,200.
• Children and dependents: Each dependent could qualify for a $1,200 payment.
• Families: Households would qualify for a maximum payment of $6,000 total, capped at five family members at $1,200 apiece.
• People who aren’t US citizens: Noncitizens who file tax returns, pay taxes and otherwise comply with federal tax law using an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) instead of a Social Security number would qualify for a payment.

The bill would also extend many federal benefits set to expire this month

Second stimulus check: What comes next?

It’s July, which puts us on the month-long deadline McConnell set for the Senate to decide on a second stimulus check. The House passed its Heroes Bill in May. With the Senate on a planned break till July 20, McConnell and the Republican-led Senate will have three weeks until Aug. 7 to craft its own stimulus package, if it does decide to move forward.