Second stimulus checks: Will $1,200 payments be approved this week?

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Both Republicans and Democrats want to send Americans a second round of stimulus checks as part of the next coronavirus aid package. While negotiations in Washington didn’t advance much over the last few days, we’re finally hearing about “productive” conversations that could put you closer to receiving the next $1,200 direct payment.

Talks on the huge relief measure resumed on Saturday, focused 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 – convened again in hopes of breaking a week long stalemate.

Speaking to reporters, negotiators on both sides said that the talks were “productive” and would continue on Monday. But during an interview Sunday, Pelosi made it clear the progress doesn’t mean everyone is on the same page.

“We must defeat this virus. And that is one of the points that we still have not come to any agreement on,” Pelosi said.

President Donald Trump is eager for an agreement, but talks so far have not yielded progress.

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.

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump took the issue surrounding negotiations to Twitter saying, “the Democrats are holding back the $1,200 to $3,400 (family of four) checks that were ready to be sent out!”

“Pelosi and Schumer have no interest in making a deal that is good for our Country and our People,” Trump tweeted. “All they want is a trillion dollars, and much more, for their Radical Left Governed States, most of which are doing very badly. It is called a BAILOUT for many years of bad Dem Mgmt!”

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, according to The Washington Post.

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 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.

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