Second stimulus check for $1,200? Here’s the update on the new government proposal

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

Angela Lang/CNET

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The US House of Representatives voted to pass a second coronavirus relief bill on Friday aimed at providing further financial assistance to the people and institutions hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation worth $3 trillion — which is not yet law — proposes to include another round of stimulus checks for individual Americans. 

The second bill, called the HEROES Act (view the bill here), would also extend enhanced financial aid for people who are unemployed, and earmark 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 by no means a guarantee that the second bill will pass the Senate. (More below on what happens next.)

Support for the new House bill is fueled by rising concerns about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The US saw 3 million new unemployment claims the first full week of May, for a total of more than 36 million people filing first-time unemployment claims since mid-March. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported a 14.7% unemployment rate in April, and economists are warning of a deep global recession that the International Monetary Fund and other organizations suggest could become the worst since the Great Depression

The new proposal for a second round of stimulus checks comes as the IRS continues to send the first round of stimulus checks as part of the initial COVID-19 relief package, worth $2 trillion. If you’re waiting for your money, you can track the status of your stimulus check with the IRS, and can even use a free USPS service to see when your check is coming in the mail.

Here’s what we know about a second round of stimulus payments for individuals, including how much you might expect to receive if the bill is successful, and common arguments for and against the act. This story updates frequently in light of new information, and is intended to provide an overview of the situation.

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Recap: The first coronavirus stimulus package

In an effort to blunt the financial effects of the coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump in March signed into law a $2 trillion economic stimulus package (technically a relief package) that included payments of up to $1,200 to eligible US taxpayers and $500 for each child age 16 or younger. The IRS began sending checks in the middle of April, and by the start of May the agency had made more than 130 million payments. The rollout was bumpy, with some recipients wrestling with the tools the IRS provided to assist with signing up for and tracking their checks.

How much would the proposed coronavirus stimulus bill give to individuals, if passed?

The bill passed by the House Friday, May 15 — which Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are calling the HEROES Act (PDF), according to a fact sheet from the House Appropriations Committee — includes a wide range of benefits, such as a second direct payment to individuals and households. It’s suggested that the second bill, if passed by the Senate and then signed into law by President Trump, would provide a cash payment of up to $1,200 per family member, with a cap of $6,000 per household.

In addition, it would carry over the current enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week (on top of the typical unemployment payout) to January 2021.

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,” Speaker Pelosi said in a recorded statement. You can watch her speak about the legislation here

Since the middle of March, more than 36 million US workers who have lost their jobs have filed for unemployment. The actual number of unemployed since governors and mayors locked down their states and cities to stop the spread of coronavirus is likely higher — perhaps millions higher — because many who are eligible didn’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 right now to spend. 


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 worry how additional stimulus packages will increase the historic federal deficit.

“So let me state the obvious,” John Barrasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming, tweeted on 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

The House voted to pass the bill Friday night, and the package now moves to the Senate, where “negotiations with Senate Republicans aren’t expected to start until later this month at the earliest,” according to The Wall Street Journal

It’s widely believed that Republicans will push back against the bill and may work with The White House on their own stimulus package. If the House Democrats’ HEROES Act passes the Senate, President Trump would still need to sign it into law for it to take effect.

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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