It been more than four months since Uncle Sam doled out $1,200 stimulus checks to help Americans cope with the crippling effects of COVID-19 on the US economy. With cases continuing to surge across the country and millions of Americans still out of work, lawmakers are in discussions for a second round of checks.
But there’s still a lot of bickering on Capitol Hill over competing proposals that have been put forth by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Here’s everything we know so far about the potential for another round of checks:
Democrats and Republicans agree the checks are necessary
Leaders from both parties agree that Americans are hurting and in need of financial assistance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month introduced the HEALS Act, which would put another $1,200 check in the pockets of most American adults.
Democrats have similarly proposed another round of $1,200 payments with the HEROES Act, which was passed by the House in May.
But the similarities stop there
Partisan gridlock over the overall cost of any stimulus bill has caused negotiations to drag on for weeks, with a clear gulf between what both sides want.
The Democratic leaders publicly offered on Friday to negotiate an approximately $2 trillion deal after initially insisting that Republicans cave and pass a $3.4 trillion package. Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal for about $1 trillion in stimulus spending.
Talks appeared to deteriorate on Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer accusing each other of refusing to budge, just two days after Mnuchin told CNBC the Trump administration was willing to produce an aid package this week “if we can get a fair deal.”
“Democrats have compromised,” Pelosi and Schumer said Wednesday. “Repeatedly, we have made clear to the Administration that we are willing to come down $1 trillion if they will come up $1 trillion. However, it is clear that the Administration still does not grasp the magnitude of the problems that American families are facing.”
Mnuchin, meanwhile, said that Pelosi “was unwilling to continue negotiations unless we agreed in advance to her proposal, costing at least $2 trillion.”
“The Democrats have no interest in negotiating,” he added.
Here's when you might see another stimulus check
The IRS could send out most of the proposed $1,200…
Their proposals have stark differences
Central points of disagreement in stimulus legislation talks include a Democratic request for $1 trillion in state and local aid, which Republicans oppose. Democrats object to a proposed Republican liability waiver for businesses and want to resurrect the $600 weekly unemployment that expired last month, which Republicans said could encourage people to not return to work.
Democrats also want non-citizens with IRS-issued taxpayer numbers to be eligible for stimulus checks, a proposal that has been a non-starter with Republicans.
Even Trump’s name is a sticking point
The first round of checks that went out earlier this year prominently featured the president’s name printed on them — a change that delayed the production of the checks by several days— something that Democrats scrapped in their most recent proposal. Republicans, however, have not shown any inclination to scrub Trump’s name from the checks.
They could arrive as soon as this month — if Congress gets its act together
The Internal Revenue Service could send out most of the proposed $1,200 payments by the end of August if lawmakers reach a deal to send them out this week, IRS staffer Chad Hooper told CNBC in a Tuesday report.
That’s because the tax agency is “better positioned” to distribute the cash than it was in April, when taxpayers encountered glitches in receiving the payments meant to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Hooper.
“The infrastructure is already in place to administer such a payment,” Hooper said.
But Congress just kicked off its August recess
Many members of Congress left Washington for their home states this week, with lawmakers on recess until Sept. 7. The lawmakers can be called back to DC to vote if a deal is reached, however.
Meanwhile, President Trump is extending unemployment benefits via executive order
Trump on Saturday signed executive orders to extend the weekly unemployment benefits created under the CARES act, but reducing it to $400 from $600.
White House economic adviser Peter Navarro said the president had to take action to protect Americans after negotiations in Congress ground to a standstill. But it’s still unclear whether the checks will make it to Americans because it requires state governors to set up a program to provide the benefit and calls for $100 of the weekly payments to be picked up by cash-strapped states