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Is the government going to send me a check? The latest on how much and when it will arrive

The Senate is hammering out the third installment of economic stimulus to blunt the financial and health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington.
Evan Vucci, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Americans hoping for a government check to weather the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t expect cash in their mailboxes before the first week of April — at the earliest.

The Senate is hammering out the third installment of economic stimulus, which could include an idea from Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to send checks directly to Americans.

Americans need cash now ... and I mean now, in the next two weeks.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press conference Tuesday.

Romney’s individual cash stimulus idea included an income cutoff and would be more than $1,000 per adult.

The “Stage Three Proposal” from the Treasury Department includes a $500 billion appropriation to fund direct payments to American taxpayers. The sum would be doled out in two separate $250 billion allocations beginning on April 6 and May 18, according to a Treasury document obtained by The Washington Post.

President Donald Trump supports the idea and his Treasury Department has proposed that checks could be mailed as soon as the first week of April.

The Treasury Department proposal also includes $300 billion in small business loans, $50 billion for loans to American passenger and cargo airlines and $150 billion to support other business sectors. The total package would cost around $1 trillion, according to The Hill.

Trump said he was in favor of the government taking some ownership — an equity stake — of companies that received bailout money, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The president has already signed two previous bills that received, mostly, bipartisan congressional support.

The first bill — signed on March 6 — responding to the crisis was an $8.3 billion emergency relief package that funded emergency response efforts and a remote telehealth service for elderly Americans to communicate with physicians. Less than two weeks later, and as the coronavirus spread rapidly though the country, the president signed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” on Wednesday. That will fund free COVID-19 testing for people that needed it, funded paid sick leave for some and bolstered food assistance.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have reservations on the how the massive bailout should best be used, which could hold up the Trump administration’s goal of distributing financial aid as soon as possible.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is leading the effort on the third bill, said Thursday that it has four “pillars.” Those include cash payments directly to individuals, small business payments, loads for industries affected by the coronavirus and health care industry funding, The Washington Post reported.

The direct cash payments were for “the middle class on down,” McConnell said, and that the direct cash payments would go to taxpayers. The Post reported that some Republicans support smaller checks for people who don’t pay federal income taxes. The majority leader could release a Senate Republican proposal as early as Thursday.

Democrats want to ensure the industrial bailout protects “workers first” and that companies do not purchase their own stocks and pay off shareholders with the stimulus money.

“The bailout in 2008 helped people at the top, didn’t help average folks. That is not going to happen on our watch,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during an interview with MSNBC Thursday. “And we hope our Republican friends will join us in putting workers first.”

On the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer said individual checks “cannot be a substitute” for relief like paid sick leave and if lawmakers wanted to send Americans cash, the checks should be more substantial and happen more than twice.

The House — which has already left Washington for a weeklong recess — did not plan to return until a bill was ready to vote on and was looking at ways to vote remotely. It wasn’t clear when the House’s own version of the bill would be ready.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said “Schumer’s a deal-maker and McConnell’s a deal-maker — he holds his cards very close to the vest but he’s a dealmaker,” Politico reported.

There are 18 days until the Trump administration wants to start mailing checks.