What the GOP has in mind for a second round of stimulus checks

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Hoping for another stimulus check in the mail from Uncle Sam? Depending on how much you make, you may be out of luck.

The Trump administration and Senate Republicans are reportedly considering a much slimmer follow-up stimulus package that would mean considerably fewer Americans receive direct payments, according to the Washington Post.

Nearly 160 million Americans received stimulus payments of up to $1,200 each under the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package signed into law in March. While individuals earning up to $99,000 annually were eligible for some form of payment the last time around—with those earning $75,000 or less eligible for the full $1,200 check—any new stimulus bill would likely greatly reduce the number of Americans receiving assistance.

According to the Post, Republican lawmakers are considering several proposals that would lower the income threshold well below $75,000, in the interest of reducing the scope of the payments while ensuring lower-income Americans get the help they need. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already suggested limiting further stimulus checks to those earning $40,000 per year or less, such as hospitality industry workers who “have been hit the hardest during this whole episode,” he said.

The talk of more limited direct payments comes as Republicans seek to balance the need for more stimulus measures for a struggling U.S. economy with concerns that the government is spending too much on such efforts. In addition to the CARES Act, House Democrats have already passed a follow-up bill, the HEROES Act, that would cost $3 trillion—though that proposal has faced resistance from Republicans. One top aide to Vice President Mike Pence said earlier this week that the Trump administration is targeting a $1 trillion cap on any new stimulus package.

Any new bill would likely also address the matter of extended unemployment benefits, which some observers have described as critical in helping many U.S. households make ends meet amid a pandemic that has cost tens of millions of Americans their jobs. Most notably, the extra $600 weekly unemployment benefit provided by the federal government, as a supplement to existing state unemployment insurance, is due to expire at the end of this month.

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