There’s ‘Fundamental Agreement’ on a Second Stimulus Check — But Who Would Qualify?


It seems likely that another stimulus check could be included in a second round of coronavirus relief.

But there are still many questions around who exactly will qualify for another direct payment as the country grapples with surges in COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that Senate Republicans and the White House have reached a "fundamental agreement" on the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation, but that certain portions of the bill are still up in the air, reports CBS News.

The lag has caused a broader delay on the bill which lawmakers hoped to rapidly advance to negotiations with Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the bill would be unveiled early next week.

One of the big sticking points of a new bill is the eligibility for a second stimulus check, and whether there should be an income threshold to receive a direct payment.

Will there be a $40,000 income threshold?

In early July, McConnell suggested that second stimulus checks should only go to those who have “been hit the hardest,” pointing to a $40,000 income limit.

“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked — hotels, restaurants — and so that could well be a part of it,” McConnell said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had questions about the amount.

“I don't know where the $40,000 comes from,” she said when asked about the figure news conference in July. “The $40,000 would have to be explained, justified and the rest.”

If it makes it into the bill, the $40,000 cutoff would bring the number of Americans eligible for the stimulus check to 106 million, down from the 165 million who qualified under March’s CARES Act.

What about unemployment benefits?

Another point of debate among lawmakers is whether and how much expanded unemployment benefits will still be available in the new relief bill.

GOP lawmakers are considering lowering the expanded unemployment benefit to $400 a month — but extending it through Dec. 31, according to a report from CNBC.

Currently, based on legislation passed in March, the expanded unemployment benefit is $600 per week — or $2,400 per month — but that policy expires at the end of July. Some states will issue their final payments this week due to a technicality in the calendar.

Where do economists stand?

Some experts believe that a more targeted direct payment makes sense, as higher income households are likelier to save the money while lower income households are likelier to spend it, thus having a more significant impact on the economy.

"Lower-income households receive it, they spend it right away," said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, per CBS.

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