News flash: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin didn’t promise second stimulus checks by August.
Here’s what you need to know.
Second Stimulus Checks
Headlines this weekend suggest that second stimulus checks of $1,200 will be sent in August. The proof? Apparently, Mnuchin spoke with reporters during a trip on Saturday to Capitol Hill with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to meet with congressional staffers who are drafting the new stimulus package proposal. While he spoke with reporters on Capitol Hill Saturday, he didn’t make any comments about second stimulus checks. Here’s what Mnuchin said:
- “We had a productive meeting.”
- “We worked through the final documents.”
- “We just want to make sure all the paperwork is finished so [the stimulus package] can be introduced on Monday.”
Mnuchin then proceeded to address unemployment benefits, not second stimulus checks. Referring to the enhanced $600 a week unemployment benefits, Mnuchin noted that some people were paid more money to stay home than return to work. He noted that the president’s focus is to get people back to work, and that wage replacement could be focused on 70% wage replacement. The $600 a week unemployment benefits expired yesterday in 49 states and expires in New York today.
When will you get a second stimulus check?
First, it’s important to reiterate that Congress has not approved a second stimulus check. Both Democrats and Republicans, as well as President Donald Trump, appear ready to approved a second stimulus check. However, Senate Republicans still need to introduce their stimulus package, which is expected Monday. Second, Republicans have to work with Democrats to produce a final bill. Since Republicans only control 53 seats in the U.S. Senate, they need support from Democrats for the stimulus package. The good news is that second stimulus checks are one area in which Republicans and Democrats could agree. Third, Mnuchin is not a member of Congress and therefore will not vote on the stimulus package, but he is representing the White House in discussions with Congress. That said, as Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin oversees stimulus checks and therefore is informed about the timing, process and distribution of second stimulus checks, if they are approved.
Did Mnuchin say that stimulus checks would be sent in August?
Here’s what Mnuchin said Thursday on CNBC: “The president’s preference is to make sure that we send out direct payments quickly so that in August, people get more money.” That’s different than saying that stimulus checks will be sent in August. The intention is to send stimulus checks in August, but it depends first on Congress to approve a stimulus package.
How much is the second stimulus check?
Republicans say there will be a second stimulus check. However, a draft summary of the stimulus package says “the amount of the payment and eligibility criteria are [to be announced].” This announcement is expected Monday when Republicans introduce their stimulus package proposal. Mnuchin previously remarked that “our proposal is the exact same proposal as last time,” implying that the amount of the second stimulus check will be the same as the first stimulus check. If true, this would mean that there would be a one-time $1,200 stimulus check:
- a one-time stimulus check up to $1,200 for each individual;
- $2,400 for married/joint filers; and
- up to $500 for dependents under age 17.
- If you earned less than $75,000 (individuals) or $150,000 (married/joint filers), you would receive a $1,200 second stimulus check (or $2,400 stimulus check for married/joint filers).
- The first stimulus check phased out by $5 for every $100 of adjusted gross income above those income limits until $99,000 of adjusted gross income for individuals and $198,000 for married/joint filers.
Democrats also support a $1,200 second stimulus check, but want to increase dependent payments to $1,200, with a maximum of three dependents, and want to make dependents 17 and older eligible for a dependent stimulus payment.
Will second stimulus checks be sent in August?
It’s possible, but there is no guarantee. This is the key timeline for the stimulus package. The House of Representatives starts summer recess after July 31. However, House leadership has instructed members to delay summer recess until a potential stimulus package is finalized. The Senate is on recess after August 7. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that a stimulus deal could take “a few weeks.”
Second stimulus checks could be sent in August:
If Congress finalizes the new stimulus before August 7, it’s possible that second stimulus checks could be sent as early as late August. Why? Congress approved the Cares Act — the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that included first stimulus checks — on March 27, 2020. The Treasury Department started sending the first stimulus check on April 15. That’s 17 days from approval to the first stimulus check being sent. If Congress approved the new stimulus package before August 7, and the U.S. Treasury sends second stimulus checks 17 days later, it’s possible that second stimulus checks are sent in late August. Importantly, the U.S. Treasury may send second stimulus checks, if approved, faster or slower than the 17-day period for the first stimulus check. Congress and the president want to send second stimulus checks to help the American people, and ideally want to send second stimulus checks as soon as possible. It’s also an election year, and the November election is less than 100 days away. So, members of both parties are keen to send direct payments to potential voters and constituents.
Second stimulus checks could not be sent in August
It’s also possible, although lower likelihood, that Congress does not reach a deal in August. First, there are still material differences between Republicans and Democrats on the stimulus package. Second, once a deal is reached, there is no guarantee that second stimulus checks are sent to everyone or anyone in August. Third, while most Americans received a first stimulus check through direct deposit, many Americans waited several months to receive a paper stimulus check. If there is no deal in August, then Congress is back in session on September 8.
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