The House 'Heroes Act': More $1,200 payments
The legislation that the U.S. House has approved is called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act — the "Heroes Act," for short.
Among other things, it would put as much as another $1,200 directly into the pockets of most Americans, this time including kids, to a limit of $6,000 per household.
The original payments — up to $1,200 for adults and $500 for each child under age 17 — were part of a bill President Donald Trump signed on March 27.
Americans have used the money to cover basic expenses, build up emergency savings in case they're laid off, even take care of needs like buying life insurance so if they fall victim to the virus their loved ones will have financial protection.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced the Heroes Act in mid-May, she made note of its $3 trillion price tag. But she said not taking action would be even more expensive.
"There are those who said, 'Let’s just pause,’” Pelosi said. "Hunger doesn’t take a pause. Rent doesn’t take a pause. Bills don’t take a pause."
The reaction to the Heroes Act
The House's "Heroes" didn't exactly get a ticker-tape parade.
Both the White House and Senate Republicans declared the bill "dead on arrival"; President Trump said he would veto it if it reached his desk.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, decided to put off the consideration of a new relief measure until after the Senate's weeklong Memorial Day recess next week. He told Fox News on Thursday that senators are "not quite ready to intelligently" put together a new package.
But members of his own party object to the idea of waiting.
"Anyone who thinks now is the time to go on recess hasn't been listening," tweeted Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
Other proposals include $2K monthly stimulus checks
Several other measures have been pitched in Washington, including plans to give Americans larger stimulus checks — and more of them:
- Some Senate Democrats want to give most Americans $2,000 a month, retroactive to March. Married couples would get $4,000 plus $2,000 each for up to three children. The payments wouldn't stop until three months after the Department of Health and Human Services has declared an end to the public health emergency.
- A couple of Democrats in the House also have proposed giving most people $2,000 per month, for at least six months. This plan would provide $500 per child, for as many as three kids in a family.
- The White House is reportedly exploring one-time payments to Americans of $5,000. The money would be in the form of loans against future Social Security benefits. Once the time comes to claim Social Security in retirement, you wouldn't receive any benefits until the loan was paid off, with interest.
- Instead of giving Americans more cash to ease their pandemic pain, some Republicans want to reduce payroll taxes for working people. Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas told The Wall Street Journal that a payroll tax cut would be a "more efficient" way of stimulating the economy.
- Other Republicans want to do nothing. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told CNN he didn't "see the need" for another aid package, with states reopening and coronavirus testing expanding.
Why more stimulus checks are likely
When all is said and done, the government will probably provide Americans with another round of $1,200 payments, says the giant Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs.
"Our forecast assumes one more round of payments similar to what the bill proposes," writes Goldman Sachs strategist Jan Hatzius in a research note, as reported by Yahoo Finance. By "the bill," he means the House Heroes Act.
But the money won't come before the summer: "We do not expect Congress to enact the next round of fiscal measures until late June," Hatzius says.
Though the Senate has put things on hold, Sen. McConnell told Fox News that a deal on more relief is "not too far off."
President Trump sounded open to the idea of another aid package during a visit Thursday to a Ford Motor Co. factory in Michigan.
"I think we will. I think we’re going to be helping people out," he told reporters. "There could be one more nice shot."
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. economy is in danger of suffering lasting harm unless the government provides more help.
"Additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery," he said during a recent online speech.
Powell's words of warning shook financial markets so hard that he provided a bit of financial relief to some Americans, namely homebuyers and homeowners. Stocks plunged — but so did mortgage rates.