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Second Stimulus Might Include Direct Payments — Here’s What That Means

Just don't expect it to be as broad or as generous as round one.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the most powerful people in Washington—and one of the most loathe to distribute federal funds directly to citizens. So when he says there “could well” be another round of direct stimulus payments to Americans in the fifth COVID-19 response bill, it’s a pretty big deal.

“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” McConnell said. “Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked — hotels, restaurants — and so that could well be a part of it,” McConnell said.

A $40,000 income ceiling would be much stricter than that of the CARES Act, which provided a one-time $1,200 payment for individuals making up to $75,000 per year, decreasing payments for incomes up to $99,000, and an additional $500 per dependent child.

It’s also, predictably, much less generous than the plans called for by the bolder wing of the Democratic Party, many of which proscribe $2,000 monthly payments until the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

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There’s little appetite for that plan among the centrists in their party, and even less among the leadership of the Republican-controlled Senate. President Trump has been pushing for more payments to individuals — perhaps because he wants another chance to get his name on the checks.

McConnell said that “the country needs one last boost.” But far from acting with urgency in the midst of an unprecedented cataclysm, McConnell is waiting until after the Senate returns from vacation on July 20 to reveal exactly what he has in mind.