It was predicted that the second round of stimulus checks would land in millions of Americans’ bank accounts as soon as next week, thanks to the $900 billion economic relief package that Congress passed on Monday night. But the sudden demand of President Donald Trump on Tuesday that lawmakers raise the bill’s $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 per person is now calling into question the timing and some of the checks.
The upheaval comes after Congress added $600 per individual checks during last-minute talks to the bill, a sum that some legislators, such as Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, and Josh Hawley of Missouri, a Republican, had declared too tiny. In a video posted on Twitter on December 22, Mr. Trump seemed to agree with the critics that he would not sign the economic relief bill, calling the stimulus checks “ridiculously low.”
In the recorded message, Mr. Trump said, “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low 600 dollars to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,”
In the first round of stimulus checks, the $600 checks directed by the relief bill will represent half of the $1,200 directed at most adults. Critics have said the assistance would be beneficial, but not enough to tide over families who have suffered income or work losses since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the economy in March and caused unemployment to rise.
According to a new survey by TransUnion, which also found that 40 percent of those households were betting on the possibility of another stimulus check to help them pay their bills, nearly 6 in 10 consumers claim they took a financial hit due to the pandemic at the end of November.
How likely check for $2,000?
Democrats support Mr. Trump’s request for $2,000 checks, but how many Republicans would participate is not clear because, according to Heights Securities, the plan for greater payouts will cost an estimated $530 billion, or around $385 billion more than what Congress approved for the $600 checks.
House Democrats said they are planning on proposing a $2,000 stimulus check bill this Thursday and will try to pass it by mutual consent because no one is going to vote on the floor. “Let’s do it!”Let’s do it!
She added that during the lengthy talks, Republicans had “repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks”
Wall Street analysts claim they think it’s more likely that the new bill — with $600 checks, supported by big bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress — will go forward, however.
“Our base case remains that the bill passed by Congress will become law, “Our basic case remains that the bill passed by Congress will become law.
What about the timing of the inspections?
With Mr. Trump’s pushback, as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had expected on December 21, it seems increasingly unlikely that stimulus checks will start to enter people’s bank accounts as early as next week.
The bill could be postponed by a further round of talks by several days, while a Mr. Trump veto could postpone the passage of a bill by weeks.
According to Wall Street analysts, there are a couple of ways this could play out. By early next week, Congress could agree to the $2,000 checks, paving the way for Mr. Trump to sign the bill, but it’s uncertain if Republican lawmakers will agree to the move, Heights Securities noted.
If Mr. Trump vetoes the bill, Heights Securities said, “things could really fall apart,” In the new session of Congress, which starts January 3, Congress might try to pass the bill again, but lawmakers could try to revisit certain clauses in the bill, such as the sum per stimulus check, which, they expected, might postpone passage again.
What about the checks for $600?
“Right now, some experts say the bill with $600 checks is most likely to go forward, although the route is “complicated,” Raymond James’ Mills said.
In the spring, when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Protection Act (or CARES Act) approved $1,200 checks for eligible adults, the checks would represent half the amount directed to most U.S. households.
However, under the bill passed by Congress, in the second round of stimulus checks, one group of persons would receive more money than the first: dependent children, who would receive the same $600 checks as adults, up from the $500 checks that children got in the spring under the CARES Act.
Independent persons earning up to $75,000 would receive $600, while $1,200 would be earned by married couples earning up to $150,000.
The second round of checks will have the same form of income phase-outs as in the CARES Act, with earnings over $75,000 per single individual or $150,000 per married couple limited by the stimulus check payments.
The number of payments people receive will be decreased by $5 for every $100 of income received over those limits, according to the House Appropriations Committee. That’s close to the CARES Act, but as compared to the previous bill, less higher-earning taxpayers will qualify for the checks under this formula.
Compared with the CARES Act’s phaseout for single individuals earning over $99,000 and for couples earning over $198,000, the second stimulus tests will be phased out completely for single individuals earning over $87,000 or married couples earning more than $174,000.
You can go to the Omni Calculator’s second stimulus calculator for an estimation to check how much you could get.
$600 for each “dependent” child
Aside from the smaller stimulus checks for adults, the amount given for dependent children is the other big improvement under the bill passed by Congress: $600 for each child, up from $500 in the CARES Act.
The bill states, however, that the $600 would be directed towards each dependent child under 17 years of age, which suggests that adults who are nonetheless claimed as dependents would not qualify for the tests, such as college students and older high school students.
Adult dependents, such as seniors who are suspected to be relying on the tax returns of their adult children, will also not apply for the tests. In the first round of checks, the exclusion of college students and other adult dependents was a matter of controversy, with some families claiming that older dependents should not qualify for the payments.
Under the amendment, a family of two parents and two minor children could earn up to $2,400, lawmakers said.
Couples that involve an alien without a Green Card, a clause that is retroactive to the CARES Act, the summary said, will also qualify for the checks.
This is important to many families since the first round of stimulus checks only went to American citizens or immigrants with resident alien status, also known as a Green Card. As well as undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants without a Green Card were excluded, and American citizens married to immigrants without a Green Card were also excluded, as were their children, even though the young dependents are citizens.
Because of their spousal or parental relationship to an alien, refusing checks to U.S. residents sparked litigation earlier this year over what claimants argued was an illegal action.
What about the beneficiaries of Social Security?
A slower rollout for Social Security recipients, as well as Supplemental Security Income recipients, Railroad Retirement Board recipients, and Veterans Administration recipients, was one failure of the first stimulus payments. Since some of those beneficiaries do not file tax returns, which the IRS relied on to administer the earliest stimulus payments, millions of them have waited for their checks for weeks or months.
But according to Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who served on a bipartisan stimulus bill that became the basis for the current talks, the new bill would guarantee that those applicants would receive the $600 checks automatically.
“I am particularly glad that the final text of the relief package includes my bipartisan bill to ensure that recipients of Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and certain VA benefits will receive these payments automatically,” Hassan said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.
That implies that she said, millions of beneficiaries from Social Security, SSI, VA, and Railroad Retirement will not risk missing out on collecting the payments.
Further stimulation benefits:
Extra unemployment assistance of $300 a week
The stimulus bill also provides an additional $300 a week in unemployment benefits, aside from the $600 stimulus checks. That means that, by March 14, 2021, unemployed employees will collect their normal state unemployment benefits, plus $ 300 on top of that.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which involves gig employees and self-employed workers, will also be expanded, as would the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides people who have run out of their normal state unemployment insurance with extra weeks of jobless assistance.
Loans from PPP for small businesses
Another $284 billion in forgivable loans will be extended to the Paycheck Insurance Scheme. Part of the financing will be set aside by lenders such as Minority Depository Institutions for what the bill defines as tiny businesses, following criticism that the first round of PPP loans ignored much minority- and women-owned businesses.
Eligibility for non-profits and local newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasters will also be extended under the PPP scheme.
For companies in low-income areas, another $20 billion in economic injury disaster loans will be set aside, while $15 billion would go to live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural organizations that were forced to cut or close down operations due to the pandemic.