Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has significantly altered his stance on a second round of stimulus payments this week. McConnell had earlier called the Heroes Act dead-on-arrival, dismissing the Democratic House bill due to its cost. Now, he says a second round of stimulus payments “could well be” a part of the next relief package. However, he also alluded to a possible change to the eligibility rules. Here’s the latest look at what to expect.
Higher Likelihood of a Second Stimulus Check
For weeks now, Republicans have shown great hesitation to approve a second stimulus payment. The version of the Heroes Act that Democrats passed in the House of Representatives had a 50% higher price-tag than the initial CARES Act. It also included more funding for healthcare, and provided payments to non-citizens and for dependents. But the massive budget was dismissed by Republicans who insist on limited federal spending. Still, the GOP’s tone has begun to change in recent weeks.
President Trump has expressed some interest in a second stimulus payment. This has led to a slow but steady increase in support from others in his party. A second personal payment is now looking more likely. And while McConnell’s comment is still fairly lukewarm, it is a departure from his previous hardline.
New Eligibility Rules
McConnell made another off-hand yet newsworthy comment at the time of briefing. “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” he admitted. This suggests that the structure of the second stimulus package will likely differ from the CARES Act. The CARES Act provided a baseline $1,200 payment for those with annual income under $75,000. Those who made between $75,000 and $99,000 received a partial check of $700.
But if McConnell’s quote is taken literally, the second stimulus may do away with the partial checks and lower the cap to $40,000. Jeff Sein of The Washington Post wrote of the comment:
“Multiple sources say McConnell didn’t just throw out $40,000 as a cut-off haphazardly — consensus within GOP is moving that direction, which would sharply limit eligibility.”
A Motivated Change
McConnell and the Republican Party are walking a tight rope as the November election nears. The GOP traditionally opposes massive government spending, and has painted the Heroes Act as an example of Democratic frivolousness. But the Senate Leader does not want to contradict President Trump, who has supported the notion of a second payment. He also knows that his party will look callous if it doesn’t make an attempt to help out those in need during one of the nation’s worst economic disasters in history. McConnell may see an acceptable middle ground in agreeing to a second round of payments with caveats.