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The stimulus package signed into law in March provided a boost to Americans to help them stay afloat during the pandemic. But as the coronavirus lingers, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are feeling the heat to approve another round of stimulus checks.
While parsing Trump’s feelings on the topic of more checks has been a bit of a guessing game, on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened the door for more stimulus. But he also hinted at lowering the income threshold this go-around.
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” McConnell told reporters when asked about another round of checks. “Many of them work in the hospitality industry…so that could well be a part of it.”
The first round of stimulus checks were worth as much as $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 for each qualifying child. That amount decreased for adjusted gross income above $75,000 per individual or $150,000 per qualified couple. Individuals earning above $99,000 (or $198,000 per couple) weren’t eligible for the first round of checks.
If Congress approved a second stimulus check only for workers with incomes under $40,000, it would mean millions more would be left out this time around. The median U.S. household income is $61,937, and the median income is $31,048, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means about half of American workers or households could be excluded.
Furthermore, since the last round of stimulus checks were based on your previous year’s tax returns, that could end up leaving out millions of newly unemployed Americans. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ June jobs report, which found an 11.1% unemployment rate, didn’t break down joblessness by income level. However, a Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll conducted between May 20 and May 26 of 4,109 U.S. adults found 12% of workers making between $50,000 to $99,000 had lost their job, and 7% of those making over $100,000 reported being unemployed. Among those earning under $50,000, 24% reported they had lost their jobs.
In May, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which would provide American households with up to $6,000 in direct stimulus payments. But that bill has gone nowhere in the Senate. Just last week President Donald Trump expressed openness to another stimulus check, but didn’t provide details.
The Fortune-SurveyMonkey May poll found 54% of U.S. adults support a second round of checks. That’s far less support than the first round had: A Fortune-SurveyMonkey poll conducted between March 23 and March 24 found 85% of U.S. adults supported the federal government sending a onetime stimulus check.
And a second round of stimulus checks doesn’t have same the bipartisan support. Among Republicans, 85% viewed the first onetime check favorably, compared with 87% of Democrats, our March poll found. But support for a second stimulus payment is 40% and 67% among Republicans and Democrats, respectively.