Stimulus check 2 debate stalls as unemployment benefits expire

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As Congressional lawmakers continue to debate what will be included in the stimulus check 2 package, federal unemployment benefits are expiring today (July 31) and leaving many out-of-work Americans without a clear view of how they're going to pay their bills in the coming months. 

Earlier this week, Senate Republicans introduced the HEALS Act, which would provide another round of direct payments to low- and middle-income Americans as well as an extension of federal unemployment benefits, although at a reduced rate.

Since the CARES Act passed earlier this spring, workers have been eligible for an additional $600 per week on top of state unemployment benefits, but the last checks were set to come the week ending July 31. 

That means that many Americans received their last federal supplement as early as last weekend, as many states pay out unemployment benefits on Saturdays or Sundays. 

The need for action

The additional $2,400 in federal funds every month is essential for many people. A U.S. Census Bureau survey found that 24 million Americans may be unable to make their next rent payment without the federal unemployment benefits, USA Today reports. State unemployment programs generally provide less than $400 per week

The Senate's HEALS Act would continue federal unemployment benefits at just $200 per week for two months until states can transition to a system that pays out relief at rates of up to 70% of workers' previous incomes. 

Meanwhile, Democrats have pushed to continue the existing $600 payment. And several Republican senators introduced a new proposal Thursday (July 30) that would phase out federal unemployment benefits more slowly: $500 per week in August, $400 per week in September and $300 per week in October. States could also choose to replace income up to 80% of workers' pre-unemployment pay. 

What about stimulus check 2? 

Lawmakers generally agree on the merits of sending another round of direct payments to most Americans, employed or not. The HEALS Act uses the same formula as the CARES Act, so single individuals earning less than $75,000 per year and married individuals making up to $150,000 would get $1,200 checks. Those making up to $99,000 or $198,000, respectively, would see prorated benefits.

The HEALS Act would also expand the dependent child benefit to include dependents of all ages, not just those age 16 and under. Families would receive an additional $500 per claimed dependent.  

You can use this stimulus check 2 calculator to see how much you'll get. And if you haven't received your first stimulus check, check the status using the IRS's Get My Payment app or call a representative at the IRS stimulus check phone number

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.