More than a month after the United States began shutting down businesses and canceling public events to curb the spread of the coronavirus, many Americans are finding themselves in the thick of the financial fallout.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, granted Americans earning less than $99,000 annually a onetime payment, or "recovery rebate," of up to $1,200, plus an additional $500 for each child age 16 or younger. Married couples who file taxes jointly and earn less than $198,000 can receive up to $2,400. The cash is not taxable, unlike unemployment benefits.
About 90 million people have received stimulus checks from the Treasury Department so far, mostly by direct deposit. Over the next several weeks and months, another 60 million payments will be delivered to federal benefits recipients and others who haven't provided their direct-deposit information to the IRS.
For now, it's just a onetime payment. But some Democratic lawmakers have floated plans for recurring stimulus checks to help Americans ride out the next several months of economic hardship.
How many stimulus checks will there be?
There may be another stimulus check in future relief bills, but the House of Representatives and the Senate will need to agree, and the president will need to sign it into law, before any additional money can be sent to people. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said negotiations won't start until early May.
"Given the extent of layoffs and the absence of paid leave, another round of checks to households will likely be warranted," Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and formerly a top economist for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, told Business Insider's Joseph Zeballos-Roig.
In an MSNBC interview on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the federal government would be considering ways to "put money in people's pockets," specifically those affected by small business closures, Zeballos-Roig reported.
"Let's see what works, what is operational, and what needs other attention," Pelosi said. "Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so."
Pelosi also said in a letter to representatives earlier this month that House Democrats would seek to include "additional direct payments" for families in another bill. The CARES Act notably left out payments for adult dependents, including college students and senior citizens.
Since payments starting hitting bank accounts, several Democratic lawmakers have put forth ambitious proposals for the next relief package that would pay most Americans $2,000 a month until unemployment levels fall to pre-pandemic levels. And before dropping out of the presidential race in early April, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled his own plan to send $2,000 monthly payments to people.
These plans resemble universal basic income, or a guaranteed minimum payment made to Americans to ensure they have enough money to meet their basic needs. Stimulus checks — or "economic impact payments," as the IRS calls them — are intended to provide temporary relief in times of financial duress.