As the country still grapples with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials are weighing several options for the form that a second round of relief could take.
One possibility is instating an eligibility requirement that would give checks to those who have “been hit the hardest,” according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
On Monday, McConnell said that a qualifying income threshold could determine who qualifies for a second stimulus check at a public event in Kentucky, NBC News reports.
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked — hotels, restaurants — and so that could well be a part of it,” McConnell said.
At a separate event that same afternoon, McConnell said he will reveal his own legislation for a second round of relief when the Senate returns on July 20. The new plan will be put forth following a $3 trillion bill that House Democrats narrowly passed in May, but that President Donald Trump and some Senate Republicans, including McConnell, have criticized.
“I'll be unveiling something which will be a starting point in a few weeks and we'll be dealing with the administration and the Democrats,” McConnell said.
“I can't comfortably predict we're going to come together and pass it unanimously like we did a few months ago,” he added. “The atmosphere has become more political than it was in March, but I think we will do something. The country needs one last boost.”
According to McConnell, the new bill would include liability protection for businesses facing coronavirus-related litigation.
“This is not just for businesses. This is for hospitals, doctors, nurses, nonprofits, universities, colleges, K-12, so that people who acted in good faith during this crisis are not confronted with a second epidemic of lawsuits in the wake of a pandemic that we're already struggling with,” he said.
McConnell also opined that the next round of relief ought to be the last.
“This will have to be the last rescue package, because we now have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II. We cannot keep doing this,” he said.
The possibility for a qualifying income threshold seems to be in line with options being considered by White House officials.
Last month, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said one possible avenue of action is to restrict direct payments to Americans who are “most in need.”
Kudlow’s comments came one day after President Donald Trump told a Scripps local TV news reporter that his administration is planning on an upcoming second stimulus package that will be “very good” and “very generous.” Trump had also previously hinted at a “dramatic” Phase 4 stimulus check.