Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the first $600 individual direct payment checks could be directly deposited into Americans’ accounts as early as Wednesday.
The Trump administration is rushing to send the payments to millions of Americans as part of the COVID-19 relief bill that President Donald Trump signed Sunday night.
It is hoped that the infusion of cash into the economy will help working-class Americans who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resulting unemployment and economic contraction due to some of the lockdowns and other measures used to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
There is some economic data showing that household incomes decreased in November. An estimated 14 million Americans are unemployed.
Trump initially objected to the small size of the stimulus checks saying that they should be $2,000 checks. At the urging of the president, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure on Monday increasing the size of the stimulus checks that Americans will receive to $2,000.
That legislation is now being considered by the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, along with Georgia Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who face tough re-election fights in Georgia on Jan. 5, are urging the Senate to pass the larger stimulus checks.
The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate due to Republican concerns that it would add to the deficit. The $600 checks will cost $166 billion. Increasing the size of the checks to $2,000 would raise the cost to $553 billion.
Single Americans who make less than $75,000 a year will receive 100 percent of the individual stimulus checks. Americans earning $87,000 or more will not qualify for any stimulus checks. Those making more than $75,000, but less than $87,000 will get a prorated amount. Married couples earning up to $150,000 will receive $1,200. Married couples earning more than $174,000 get no direct payments.
The Treasury said that the checks will arrive faster than the previous direct payments did under the CARES Act, because the department has learned from the experience and is more equipped to get the money to the public in a timely fashion.
The enacting of the COVID relief bill means that the unemployed will get $300 a week in federal assistance for the next ten weeks on top of their existing unemployment checks.