WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Both Republicans and Democrats want to send Americans a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks as part of the next coronavirus aid package. Though recent negotiations have been described as “productive,” there’s a new report the Trump administration is considering unilateral action to get relief to Americans.
Talks on the huge relief measure are set to resume Monday focusing on restoring a newly expired $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit.
Principal negotiators – Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – met over the weekend in hopes of breaking a week long stalemate.
Speaking to reporters, negotiators on both sides said that the talks were “productive” and would continue this week.
The Washington Post reports the two sides remain far off, which has the Trump administration examining ways it can provide aid if a wide-ranging package isn’t approved by Congress. The Post notes it’s not clear what steps the administration could take without the help of lawmakers.
The administration is willing to extend the $600 jobless benefit, at least in the short term, but is balking at other demands of Democratic negotiators like aid for state and local governments, food stamp increases, and assistance to renters and homeowners.
Unemployment insurance is a principal element as the COVID-19 relief bill is expected to grow considerably from a $1 trillion-plus GOP draft released this week.
The $600 per week jobless benefit officially lapsed on Friday and Democrats have made it clear that they will not extend it without securing other relief priorities.
Whatever unemployment aid negotiators agree on will be made retroactive – but antiquated state unemployment systems are likely to take weeks to restore the benefits.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s initial $1 trillion HEALS Act proposal released last week was in stark contrast to a $3 trillion package previously approved by House Democrats. While many hoped the proposal would quickly receive the green light, that has not been the case. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Meadows said he even doubted a deal could be struck during the upcoming week.
McConnell may have seen this coming. He warned the timeline for passing an aid package might be weeks and not days during an appearance last week in Ashland, Kentucky.
“Hopefully we can come together behind some package we can agree on in the next few weeks,” McConnell said.
Not only has the process kept many unemployed Americans exposed with COVID-related insurance expiring last week but that means it would take that much longer for $1,200 direct payments to be distributed.
CNET estimated that if the GOP plan were to make it through Congress in the next few days, it’s possible checks would be distributed in mid to late August.
However, McConnell’s timeline indicating “weeks” could potentially push the payments even later.
The Senate is set for a recess after Friday, August 7 that would run through Labor Day.
More money for dependents
The GOP plan calls for checks up to $1,200 for most taxpayers plus an additional $500 for any dependent. The word “any” is the change that could result in additional dollars.
According to Yahoo Finance, parents of older high schoolers and college students claimed as dependents would get the bonus. This also includes anyone taking care of elderly relatives who are also claimed as dependents.
In the first round of stimulus payments, only parents of dependents under 17 received the additional $500.
“We also include, in the additional $500 for each dependent, some people that we didn’t intend to leave out last time, but we did,” Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Monday. “So regardless of age, some of these dependents will now be helped.”
A Democratic plan approved in the House back in May proposed a similar structure for dependents but with the amount being $1,200 instead of $500.
President Trump wants larger checks?
During a visit to West Texas Wednesday, President Donald Trump hinted that a second round of stimulus checks could exceed the $1,200 payment amount issued in the first COVID-19 stimulus package.
When asked if $1,200 was enough, Trump said, “We’re going to see it may go higher than that, actually.”
“I’d like to see it be very high because I love the people, I want the people to get it, you know, the economy is going to come back,” Trump continued. “We saved millions of lives but now we’re bringing (the economy) back … we gotta take care of the people in the meantime.”
How much money will I get?
Outside of the dependent payment, here’s how the payment up to $1,200 breaks down, according to CNBC:
- Individuals earning a gross adjusted income of up to $75,000 per year in 2019 will receive a $1,200 payment.
- Couples earning a gross adjusted income of up to $150,000 per year in 2019 will receive a $2,400 payment.
- The checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income, phasing out completely at $99,000 for individuals and $198,000 for couples.
- Individuals with no income and individuals who rely on benefits such as Social Security are eligible for the full $1,200 payment
The Associated Press contributed to this report.