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On Monday, Senate Republicans unveiled the $1 trillion HEALS Act -- the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protections and Schools Act -- which, among other measures, includes another $1,200 economic impact payment.
The second checks will follow the same eligibility formula as the first round, according to a memo from the Senate Finance Committee. Qualifying individuals who earn a gross adjusted income of up to $75,000 and couples earning $150,000 would receive the full $1,200 or $2,400, respectively. For higher earners, the checks will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income and phased out entirely at $99,000 and $198,000.
Individuals who have no income and federal benefits recipients are still eligible for the full check amount.
A frequent criticism of the stimulus checks in the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion package signed into law at the end of March, was that dependents over the age of 17 were excluded from the relief. But under the HEALS Act, families with dependents of any age will be able to receive an extra $500.
A vast majority of Americans will not be required to take any action in order to receive the money. The IRS will use their 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return as an alternative.
The release of the HEALS Act will kickstart a flurry of negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats, both of whom are eager for a deal as a resurgence of the virus triggers another wave of business shutdowns.
That gives lawmakers just two weeks to reach an agreement on legislation: The House is scheduled to start its recess by Aug. 3, and the Senate is expected to follow on Aug. 7. But Republicans are arriving at the negotiation table reeling from party infighting, with some conservative Republicans breaking ranks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan and arguing the proposed spending is too much.
Some warned that half of Senate Republicans may vote against the legislation.
"The focus of this legislation is wrong," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told reporters this week. "Our priority, our objective, should be restarting the economy."
House Democrats, meanwhile, passed their competing $3 trillion HEROES Act, which also included another $1,200 payment for Americans, in May. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi skewered the HEALS Act on Monday, calling the legislation "pathetic." Pelosi met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin following the GOP bill rollout.
On March 27, President Trump signed into law the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which sent one-time payments of up to $1,200 to Americans earning less than $99,000. Trump signed the package two days after the Senate passed the legislation. Less than three weeks later, on April 15, the IRS began distributing the money to tens of millions of Americans via direct deposit.
If Trump signed the legislation before the Senate begins its August recess next week, that could mean Americans would start to see the money at least by the end of the month, if not earlier, as the IRS already has individuals' direct deposit information on hand.
At the beginning of June, the IRS said it had distributed some 159 million payments, worth more than $267 billion. Of those checks, 120 million were sent via direct deposit, 35 million by check and 4 million were made in the form of a prepaid debit card.
Congress has already approved three massive stimulus packages totaling nearly $3 trillion to offset the economic pain triggered by the outbreak of the virus and subsequent lockdown. That includes the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed into law at the end of March, which sent one-time payments of up to $1,200 to Americans; established the Paycheck Protection Program and expanded unemployment benefits by $600 per week through the end of July.