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Second stimulus check update: Rep. Richard Neal files bill to increase direct payments from $600 to $2,000

December 24, 2020
In The News

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal on Thursday introduced legislation calling for an increase in the proposed second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.

Dubbed the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help (CASH) Act, the bill comes after Democrats’ months-long push for larger direct payments to Americans and President Donald Trump’s effective threat to veto the recently approved stimulus package with just $600 payments.

“For months, Democrats have consistently sought to provide Americans with a substantial second round of direct financial assistance,” the Springfield Democrat said in a statement. “Now that the president has finally endorsed that idea as well, we’re ready to immediately pass the CASH Act to put an additional $2,000 into the pockets of folks in need. Congressional Republicans must join us in this effort and not block critical relief from reaching families who are hurting.”

In addition to larger checks, the bill would expand eligibility to include mixed-status families where only one spouse has a social security number.

Eligibility remains largely contingent on income level, with caps similar to the first round of stimulus checks in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which have already been sent to more than 130 million Americans.

Individuals earning up to $75,000 received $1,200 in the first round of direct payments. Those filing as head of household earning up to $112,500 received $1,200. Married couples who file jointly and earn up to $150,000 received $2,400.

The checks decreased incrementally, at 5%, or $5 for every additional $100 in income, above the thresholds. The checks phased out entirely for single taxpayers who earn $99,000 and have no children, $146,000 for head of household filers with one child, and $198,000 for married couples with no children.

Trump on Tuesday called the bipartisan $908 billion COVID-19 stimulus package a “disgrace” stuffed with wasteful spending, though the bulk of his complaints actually centered on foreign aid and money for nonprofits and research in the overall year-end spending bill Congress passed to fund the next fiscal year and avoid a government shutdown.

The approved COVID-19 stimulus would send $600 checks to most Americans; extends a weekly $300 unemployment insurance boost through the spring; and provides hundreds of millions in small business loans and helps fund hospitals and schools as vaccine distribution ramps up.

Democrats have called on the president to sign the omnibus spending bill to ensure the government remains operational, but they’ve pressed Republicans to get on board with Democrats’ and Trump’s push for bigger checks.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a news conference that Republicans blocked a unanimous consent request to quickly push the CASH Act through the House. Hoyer noted that Thursday’s session was a “pro forma” session when no official votes can be held. Lawmakers expect a full House vote on Monday.

“Today, on Christmas Eve morning, House Republicans cruelly deprived the American people of the $2,000 that the President agreed to support,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction. House and Senate Democrats have repeatedly fought for bigger checks for the American people, which House and Senate Republicans have repeatedly rejected – first, during our negotiations when they said that they would not go above $600 and now, with this act of callousness on the floor.”

On Wednesday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Democrats of “suffering from selective hearing.”

“They’ve conveniently ignored (President Donald Trump’s) call to re-examine tax dollars wasted overseas while so many Americans are struggling at home,” McCarthy said, referencing Trump’s decrying of foreign aid in the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill approved by Congress.

 recorded vote on the CASH Act.

“To vote against this bill is to deny the financial hardship that families face and to deny them the relief they need,” she said. “Hopefully by then the president will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep government open and to deliver coronavirus relief.”

During a Thursday morning news conference on the steps of the federal courthouse in Springfield, Neal was explaining the legislative procedure of unanimous consent to reporters when someone shouted out that House Republicans had blocked the bill.

“We had a feeling that would happen,” said Neal, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

In a tweet, Neal said, “This is not over.”