$2,000 second stimulus check update: House to vote Monday on a standalone stimulus bill – CNET

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Congress voted on a smaller stimulus package intended to carry the US through the next few months, including a smaller second stimulus check.


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The House of Representatives will vote Dec. 28 on a standalone bill (PDF) to authorize a second stimulus check for up to $2,000 apiece, replacing the $600 direct payment authorized in a $900 billion stimulus bill this past Monday night. In a yet another twist to the extended stimulus check saga, President Donald Trump derided the second stimulus check’s $600 per person upper cap as “ridiculously low” and asked Congress to amend the bill to an upper limit of $2,000 instead, indicating he wouldn’t sign the stimulus bill into law without Congress meeting his condition.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the Dec. 28 vote on Thursday, after an attempt to quickly approve the raise from $600 to $2,000 through a method known as unanimous consent was blocked by House Republicans. House Democrats also rejected a Republican request for unanimous consent during the same short session, leaving both sides to regroup. 

“If the President is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Pelosi said in a statement. “On Monday, I will bring the House back to session where we will hold a recorded vote on our stand-alone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000… Hopefully by then the President will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep government open and to deliver coronavirus relief.”

On Dec. 28, the House is also expected to attempt to override Trump’s veto of a $740 billion defense bill that passed in the Senate as well, and once again launch a stopgap bill to fund the government short-term and avoid a costly shutdown.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said Thursday that the Senate wouldn’t pass Democrats’ $2,000 stimulus check bill, which would raise the total of the COVID-19 relief portion well past Republicans’ $1 trillion ceiling.

“The best way out of this is for the President to sign the bill and I still hope that’s what he decides,” Blunt said, according to The Hill.

As of Thursday, Trump did not explicitly say he intends to veto the stimulus bill, which is part of a larger, omnibus that is tied to federal funding for 2021. The two portions passed Congress as a unit and can’t be separated. It isn’t clear if Trump plans to return to the White House to sign the overarching bill into law even if a $2,000 direct payment did replace the current $600 total. 

Trump is currently at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Springs, Fla. and isn’t set to return until Jan. 1 at the soonest, according to reports. However, his “schedule includes many meetings & calls,” according to a White House press schedule, tweeted by CNN’s Jerry Diamond

Trump’s geography creates a wrinkle for the stimulus bill. Without the president’s signature, it would classify as an automatic veto. With the timing so close to the end of the current Congressional term (the new session will be sworn in Jan. 3), the House and Senate may run out of time to override the veto, in effect forcing the new Congress to start over.

It isn’t curtains yet. Trump — who in Oct. abruptly pulled the White House out of ongoing negotiations over the stimulus bill while being treated for COVID-19, to offer a deal three days later — could yet change his mind. The president’s video address sparked a whirlwind of political analysis over what might happen next with the bill and the second stimulus check it contains, and what, if anything, Congress can do about it so close to the end of the session before the next Congress is sworn in Jan. 3.

Even if the House of Representatives do pass a standalone bill with a second stimulus check for up to $2,000 per adult, would it become law? And when? What would that mean for the $600 stimulus check currently in limbo with the $900 billion stimulus package that Trump now indicates he won’t sign? This story is updated often with new information.


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

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$2,000 stimulus check amount isn’t new

Since spring, several Democrats have suggested a $2,000 stimulus check, including Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey and one-time presidential hopeful (and now New York mayoral hopeful) Andrew Yang. Some supporters of this figure have even suggested sending checks on a monthly rather than a one-time basis.

What happens if Congress doesn’t amend the stimulus bill?

There’s a lot of dialog around this right now, but here are some possibilities, simplified:

  • Trump could sign the $900 billion anyway. The stimulus bill and 2021 funding bill are linked.
  • Trump could make good on his threat by actively vetoing the stimulus package.
  • He could passively decline to sign it (aka a pocket veto). If Congress doesn’t deliver the full bill to Trump by the end of the day, they would not be projected to have enough time to overrule the veto. This would take a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives, a margin both chambers already cleared, but may not have time to vote on.
  • If the bill fails, the new term of Congress, which begins Jan. 3, would need to start over fresh.

Biden has already committed to another stimulus bill and a third stimulus check

Most US leaders seem to see the $900 billion stimulus bill as a stepping stone to a larger relief package in 2021, one that may include a third stimulus check and other provisions that Republicans and Democrats agreed to leave out this round in order to pass a critical deal. 

“This bill is just the first step, a down payment, in addressing the crisis — crises, more than one — that we’re in,” President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday, emphasizing that he would like to see a third stimulus check.

If the $900 billion stimulus bill does become law, how soon could benefits go out?

Aid would likely begin to go out within a week or two after the bill officially passes, with certain funding programs possibly receiving financial help before the end of 2020. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gave next week as the target for sending payments via direct deposit to people who qualify for a second stimulus check to receive their payment, intended to bring direct cash flow to tens of millions of Americans. And the $300 unemployment checks are slated to restart as soon as Dec. 26. 

If there’s a delay signing the bill, the timeline could shift, since agencies need time to set up their processes and communicate with recipients about what they need to do or expect.

You can calculate your second stimulus check total now. Here’s which payment group you might be in. Here’s what we know about how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check, and here are more details about weekly unemployment insurance.

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A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Why wasn’t a larger second stimulus check part of the deal?

A second stimulus check has had wide bipartisan support ever since the CARES Act passed. Over the last several months, everyone from Trump and Biden to members of Congress, economists and everyday people have advocated for another direct payment.

Last week, Trump called for “more money than they’re talking about” in stimulus checks, as large as $1,200 or $2,000 per person. Aides reportedly convinced him at the time that making such demands would jeopardize a stimulus bill, The Washington Post reported.

Although many favor a $1,200 direct payment in theory, a second smaller stimulus check has helped keep costs below the $1 trillion cutoff that Republican lawmakers have in the past said they’d support. 

Stimulus checks aren’t cheap. The IRS said this summer that it had spent $270 billion sending out 160 million checks, and on Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has been involved in crafting the bipartisan stimulus proposal, forecast a cost of $300 billion if the checks were once again included for $1,200 per person. Republicans reportedly bridled at the cost.

A variety of factors could have contributed to a second stimulus check making its way into the final bill at all, from popular opinion and presidential preference to complicated negotiations that trimmed $160 billion from elsewhere, enough for a smaller stimulus check than before. 

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now, what you should do to speed up the delivery of a potential second check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.