Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has revealed that millions of Americans should expect another $1,200 stimulus cheque in their bank accounts and mailboxes this fall.
“Don’t forget, there’s a $1,200 check coming. That’s going to be part of the new package,” Mr Kudlow said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
Earlier this year, Congress approved the Treasury Department to cut $1,200 checks to nearly every American taxpayer, with extra monetary benefits for parents with children under 18.
While Republicans in both the White House and Congress have said another round of direct payments would be included in the fifth sweeping coronavirus aid package they’ve been negotiating, they had not previously announced an exact dollar amount.
Party leaders have also not specified who would qualify for the government handout.
The GOP was supposed to unveil a $1trn Covid-19 relief package aimed at buttressing the health care system, putting Americans back to work, and getting their children back to school this fall, but infighting between Donald Trump’s negotiators from the White House and Senate GOP leaders has delayed that roll-out.
Several Republicans are hesitant to spend another trillion dollars on coronavirus relief when the government has already shelled out more than $2.7trn already, warning of a mounting federal debt.
Even when they do introduce a bill this week, it will not be the final product: since Democrats control the US House, Republicans will need their support to send any bill to Mr Trump’s desk for his signature.
Meanwhile, several key federal programmes from the $2.2trn so-called CARES Act passed in March are expiring: a federal evictions moratorium for people in government-subsidised housing ended on 25 July, and an unemployment programme providing recently laid-off workers $600 per week on top of benefits they receive from their state expires after 31 July.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows suggested on Sunday that Congress could pass a “skinny” bill in the coming days taking care of those immediate needs, while negotiators continue to hammer out the details of a broader package.
“Honestly I see us being able to provide unemployment insurance, maybe a retention credit to keep people from being displaced or brought back into the workplace, helping with our schools — if we can do that along with liability protections, perhaps we put that forward, get that passed as we negotiate on the rest of the bill in the weeks to come,” Mr Meadows said in an interview with ABC‘s This Week.
Democrats have indicated they are unlikely to acquiesce to such a proposal, since doing so would relinquish leverage in their negotiations for a more expansive — and expensive — bill.
“We cannot piecemeal this,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday.
Any package that passes Congress must have “integrity” and “a oneness about meeting the needs of the American people, defeating the virus”, she said.
House Democrats passed a sweeping $3trn coronavirus package in May that would send another round of $1,200 cheques to each American and provide an additional $1,200 for each child in a household’s tax filing, up from $500 for each child from the first round of checks this spring.
That 1,800-page behemoth includes, among several other proposals,
billions of dollars for state and local governments;
an extension of the juiced-up unemployment benefits programme that was signed into law earlier this spring;
help for people struggling with rent and mortgage payments;
expanded mail-in voting for the elections this November;
and an infrastructure package that includes a plan to expand broadband internet access.
That bill has languished in the Senate, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky dismissing it out of hand as a liberal “wish list”.
While vast differences remain between Democrats and Republicans, the parties can at least agree that another round of direct payments from the government will be in the bill.
“This is urgent. They need to buy food. These are necessities,” Ms Pelosi said earlier this month. “And when people use that money for necessities, they inject demand into the economy and create jobs. So it is a stimulus, but it’s more than a stimulus — it is a necessity right now.”