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Second stimulus checks? Some Republicans want ‘back-to-work’ payments

Second stimulus checks? Some Republicans want ‘back-to-work’ payments
[Photo: Pepi Stojanovski/Unsplash]

A chorus of Republicans are voicing support for a second stimulus check plan that would mainly help working Americans.

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Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said that the topic of second stimulus checks dominated last Friday’s weekly Republican senators’ luncheon, but he indicated that it might not be as broad as the first round. “What you don’t want to do is have a reward given to people who don’t want to work,” Inhofe told Nexstar.

This is bad news for the 25 million Americans expected to be unemployed in July. More than 45 million people—nearly one quarter of the adult U.S. population—have applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic.

A number of Republicans have signaled their support for so-called back-to-work payment plans, which reward returns to the workforce with cash. Idaho has gone whole hog on the concept, with a $100 million return-to-work bonus program that pays $1,500 to full-time employed workers and $750 to part-time employed workers. Employers can apply on behalf of employees with incomes under $75,000. The program has garnered criticism for incentivizing low-income workers to return to jobs that may put them at risk for COVID-19 exposure.

And two Republican senators, Rob Portman of Ohio and Kevin Brady of Texas, recently proposed limited weekly payments of $450-$600 for people returning to work. Neither proposal has gained steam, but the underlying idea has snowballed. The Trump administration has also said it would support some kind of return-to-work bonus, CNBC reported.

Meanwhile, the program that authorized an additional $600 in weekly unemployment benefits is set to expire in just four weeks, a week earlier than expected, leaving many Americans unsure of how they will pay August bills, and unaware of what aid might be forthcoming from the government, how much, or when. Officials have said the $600 extra weekly unemployment payment will definitely not be renewed, out of apparent concern that it incentivizes the nonworking.

For now, all eyes are on the second stimulus package—whatever that may be.

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