• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday opened the door to a second round of stimulus checks.
    • “I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” McConnell said.
    • McConnell’s comments echoed those from Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, who said last month that additional direct payments could go toward “people who lost their jobs and are most in need.”
    • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during a public appearance in Kentucky on Monday that a second stimulus check “could well be” a part of the next economic relief package.

McConnell opened the door to including another round of direct payments, saying that people with lower incomes had borne a disproportionate share of the economic pain from the coronavirus pandemic. A Federal Reserve study published in May found that 40% of households earning under $40,000 a year had lost a job in March.

“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less,” McConnell said. “Many of them work in the hospitality industry.”

McConnell’s remarks underscored the debate among Republicans over the scope of the next economic relief package in directly aiding people. And they echoed comments from Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, who said last month that direct payments could go to “people who lost their jobs and are most in need.”

It was not immediately clear, however, that McConnell’s comments reflected the new position he would take in stimulus negotiations. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more: JPMORGAN: The coronavirus crisis has decimated one of the safest defenses long-term investors have against stock-market crashes. Here are 4 ways to pivot your portfolio now.

Under the Cares Act, Congress authorized direct payments of $1,200 to Americans earning under $75,000 a year, plus an additional $500 per child under age 17; the cash amount gradually decreased until eligibility was cut off at individual incomes above $99,000.

People jointly filing their taxes could receive a check for the full amount with an income up to $150,000, and would no longer qualify if they earned more than $198,000.

The Treasury Department and the IRS distributed direct payments to roughly 160 million Americans since April, according to the Government Accountability Office.

If Republicans push to implement a lower income threshold, experts say that step could leave out many struggling Americans from receiving another government payout.

President Donald Trump reportedly backs another wave of stimulus checks for individuals, and the White House has indicated an openness to pushing that position in stimulus negotiations, though it hasn’t unveiled a plan.

Democrats have expressed support for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for Americans, including for unauthorized immigrants left out of the initial wave of payments. McConnell assailed that provision during a fiery speech on the Senate floor in late May.

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