Second Stimulus Check Update: What the Senate, House Are Saying About Next Coronavirus Relief Package

Partisan bickering and Senate disputes over the HEROES Act have placed doubt on when -- or if -- Americans will receive a second coronavirus relief stimulus check over the coming weeks.

Washington lawmakers from both parties are continuing to hash out another round of stimulus payments two weeks after the House passed the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. But the likelihood Americans will receive a broad second round of direct deposits is quickly fading.

Several competing pieces of legislation from House Democrats -- including one that featured $2,000 checks for U.S. households -- did not make it into the final bill now sitting before the Senate. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for a "pause" on all stimulus discussions until some time next month at the earliest. Some Senate Democrats as well as Republicans have criticized another round of $1,200 direct deposits like the one included in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress in March. GOP senators say they will refuse to consider any bill which extends $600-a-week unemployment benefits, and Democratic senators say the stimulus checks should only include Americans who lost their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The HEROES Act pays out the same $1,200 to individual Americans making less than $112,500, or up to $6,000 per household. The CARES Act did the same, but only for those making less than $75,000. Under the HEROES Act, children and dependents would qualify for a $1,200 payment including college students, dependents over 17 and disabled relatives. The previous CARES Act only provided a $500 payment for children under 16.

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Progressive House Democrats proposed a wide range of legislation, much of which did not make it into the HEROES Act that ultimately passed through the House of Representatives. This included a $2,000-per-month payment to individuals as part of The Emergency Money for the People Act put forth by Congressmen Ro Khanna of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio. And Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar proposed the Emergency Rent and Mortgage Cancellation Act, which also did not make it to into the final passed bill.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden told The Hill last week that another general round of direct deposits is not his top priority: "My top priorities are tying expanded unemployment benefits to economic conditions and providing more help for the smallest of small businesses." He acknowledged "a little bit of debate" even among Democratic senators about paying blanket stimulus checks to Americans making less than $75,000 annually.

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A wide range of finance experts responded to Congress' infighting by saying it is now very unlikely that any stimulus package will be passed that includes direct deposits to Americans. Newsweek reached out to Wyden's office for additional commentary Saturday afternoon.

"I think the next round we've got to be more targeted to those who are really in need," Democratic Maryland Senator Ben Cardin told The Hill Friday. "So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19."

Much of the Senate debate has centered around expanded unemployment benefits, which gives laid off workers an extra $600 a week in addition to the $1,200 received by millions of Americans last month. Those benefits are set to expire at the end of July.

One Senate Republican, Rob Portman of Ohio, proposed a "return-to-work bonus" of $450 a week aimed at getting employees back in office spaces this summer. A senior Trump administration official said the president likes the idea, The Washington Post reported Friday.

McConnell told The Courier Journal newspaper last week the $600 unemployment benefits "will not be in the next bill."

"[We're] going to have to clean up the Democrats' crazy policy that is paying people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work," McConnell said, adding that any potential stimulus package will be "the fourth and final" piece of such legislation.

"We're taking a careful look at a fourth and final bill," he said. "You could anticipate the decision being made on whether to go forward in about a month. And it will be narrowly crafted, designed to help us where we are a month from now, not where we were three months ago."

House Democrats immediately criticized the top Senate Republican: "Leader McConnell thinks Congress should pause it's response to this crisis. Last time I checked, the virus isn't taking a pause. Neither should we. The Senate must pass the #HeroesAct immediately. #FamiliesFirst," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted Wednesday.

Newsweek reached out to the offices of McConnell and Pelosi Saturday afternoon.

New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, implored the Senate to pass the HEROES Act last week: "The economy is in deep recession. Millions are food insecure. Everyday Americans are at risk of losing their homes. It's time for the Senate to act. Pass. The. Heroes. Act. Now."

Labor Department data shows one-in-four American workers have filed for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

mitch mcconnell stimulus relief package
Washington lawmakers from both parties are continuing to hash out another round of stimulus payments two weeks after the House passed the $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (Heroes) Act. DREW ANGERER / staff/Getty Images
Second Stimulus Check Update: What the Senate, House Are Saying About Next Coronavirus Relief Package | News