Back in June and July, Americans struggling to pay their bills were anxiously asking, when can we expect a second stimulus check? But now July has turned to August, and August to September, leaving Americans asking a very different question: Will we ever get a second stimulus check?
The first stimulus check of $1,200 per person and $500 per child was approved in March through the CARES Act. It made a dent, albeit a small one, in helping families juggle mortgage and rent payments, utility bills, and other unexpected expenses in the age of the coronavirus.
However, $1,200 only stretches so far in the 21st century. Republicans and Democrats have both agreed that another round of $1,200 stimulus checks should occur. Even the Federal Reserve showed support for a second stimulus payment during a policy meeting in mid-August.
“Additional fiscal aid would likely be important for supporting vulnerable families, and thus the economy more broadly, in the period ahead,” the Federal Reserve stated in its meeting notes. The goal is to prevent and minimize “tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world.”
Despite this, Congress shocked the nation by failing to come to an agreement before its August recess. Congress pushed through weeks of fruitless negotiations and then went home. Since Congress doesn’t return until September 8, Americans are left the lurch for at least a few more weeks.
September At the Earliest
Most financial experts now agree that, even though a second stimulus package is in the best interest of the country and its citizens, there’s no guarantee that Congress will successfully negotiate the terms of a new stimulus package this fall.
We won’t know until September 8 whether the Senate reconvenes with renewed vigor to reach a deal or falls headfirst into an impasse over the same issues they faced in July.
In the best case scenario, Congress will reach a deal soon after returning from its August recess. The IRS already has the information and systems they need to start churning out stimulus checks rapidly, so the turnaround time from deal to payment may not take as long as it did after the CARES Act.
All of this means that, in the best case scenario, American families could receive a second stimulus check by the end of September. But unfortunately, there are far too many variables that make a best case scenario unlikely.
Reasons to Pass Another Stimulus Bill
Most government officials agree on the importance of a second stimulus check. It’s disagreements over the other facets of a new stimulus bill, such as extra unemployment benefits and state funding, that are causing substantial delays.
None of the conditions that validated the first stimulus check have disappeared since March. These are the most pressing issues at hand:
- Unemployment, which is still spiking by more than 1 million each week
- Housing costs, as millions of Americans face eviction and foreclosure
- The spread of COVID-19, which is unpredictable and still prevalent in many areas
The bottom line? Until Congress reconvenes, not even the most experienced financial experts can predict what will happen. While they wait, Americans are keeping their fingers crossed that financial relief is only a few more weeks away.