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A second stimulus check is in the works. How much you could get with Round 2

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Washington is already working on a second round of stimulus payments for US taxpayers.


Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

When the first round of stimulus checks was passed, the assumption was that the package was a one-time effort to help prop up the economy. Now, a second wave of stimulus payments to put up to $1,200 more in your pocket is now under negotiation in Congress, even as the IRS continues to send the last batch of economic relief checks. Whether the bill for another stimulus payment to individuals gets signed into law is up in the air, though the White House has reportedly signaled it would support a second stimulus check, according to CNBC.

This new relief act — proposed last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and passed by the House of Representatives — is fueled by rising concerns about the economy and people’s ability to pay for basic needs. In Senate testimony earlier this week, Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, called for additional economic relief.

The US economy is already staggering from coronavirus closures that have put millions of Americans out of work and ground businesses to a halt. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 14.7% unemployment rate in April. On Thursday, the federal agency reported that 38.6 million Americans sought unemployment benefits (PDF) in the past nine weeks. The International Monetary Fund warns of a deep global recession that could become the worst since the Great Depression.

The second round of stimulus checks is far from guaranteed, and likely to change even if it does succeed. We’ll outline the most important things you need to know, including how much money you might expect to get if the current bill is successful, common arguments for and against the proposed act and what happens next. 

This story is updated frequently in light of new information, and is intended to provide an overview of the situation. If you’re waiting for your money, you can track the status of your stimulus check with the IRS and use a free USPS service to see when your check is coming in the mail. We also know some possible reasons why you’ve not received your stimulus check yet.


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What’s the bill called and how much will I get?

The new proposed legislation is called the Heroes Act (view the bill here (PDF)). Last Friday, the US House of Representatives passed the bill, worth $3 trillion. It includes a wide range of benefits, such as a second direct payment to individuals and households of up to $1,200 per family member, with a cap of $6,000 per household, according to a fact sheet from the House Appropriations Committee (PDF). That’s higher than the first stimulus round.

The higher total cap per family is a result of the proposal to raise the allowance per dependent from $500 to $1,200, with a maximum claim of three dependents. You would also be able to claim children 17 and older (the first stimulus bill skipped over 17-year-olds and some college students). The Heroes Act further proposes that group of dependents and eligible noncitizens receive retroactive payments to compensate for the first stimulus check that passed them by.

The Heroes Act would also carry over the current enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week (on top of states’ typical unemployment payout) to January 2021. That detail is already contested, however. In addition, the bill seeks to set aside money for struggling businesses, the US Postal Service and coronavirus testing costs

Passing the House of Representatives, which is controlled by a Democrat majority, is one step in the journey from bill to law, but is not a guarantee that the second bill will clear its next stage: approval by the Republican-controlled Senate.

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The hope is that a second stimulus check would help keep individuals and small businesses solvent.


Angela Lang/CNET

The argument in favor of another round of stimulus checks

The proposed legislation is a self-described “bold response to the coronavirus pandemic and the economic collapse,” according to the House fact sheet. The financial support is intended to cushion “the economic blow of the coronavirus crisis.” 

The goal of a second IRS stimulus check is in part “putting much-needed money in the pockets of the American people,” Pelosi said in a recorded statement. You can watch her speak about the legislation here

Since the middle of March, more than 38 million US workers who have lost their jobs have filed for unemployment. The actual number of those unemployed since governors and mayors locked down their states and cities to stop the spread of the coronavirus is likely higher — perhaps millions higher — because many who are eligible couldn’t file a jobless claim. With the job losses, the nation’s unemployment rate reached 14.7%. The newly unemployed, along with others taking an economic hit from the pandemic, might benefit from having more money to spend right now. 

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For many, the stimulus check will help pay for rent and groceries.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The argument against a second wave of relief payments

Some in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, question whether the preceding relief measures have met their goals and want to tap the brakes before approving more federal spending to evaluate the effects of the already-approved relief packages. McConnell and others also express concern about how additional stimulus packages will increase the historic federal deficit.

“So let me state the obvious,” John Barrasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming, tweeted last Tuesday. “What Nancy Pelosi is proposing will never pass the Senate.”

Because that payment is available in addition to regular jobless benefits and enhanced unemployment benefits of $600 per week, some critics have said it will make it harder to reduce unemployment ahead if people don’t feel incentivized to return to work. The original relief measure also provides a 15% boost in federal food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

What will happen next

It isn’t clear when the Senate will begin deliberation over the Heroes Act, though negotiation to rework the content of the bill is expected.

It’s widely believed that Republicans will continue to push back against the bill and may work with The White House on their own stimulus package. Senate Majority Leader McConnell said more aid may be necessary, but it may take a different form than the House bill being proposed. Congress is also working to make it easier to forgive small business loans that are part of the Cares Act that passed in March.

Note that any second stimulus package that passes both the House and the Senate would still need a signature from President Trump before it could take effect.

We’ll update this story with new information as it arises. While the future of a second stimulus bill remains undecided, we’d like to share available resources about 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.


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