New stimulus package details: How much is in the second check and when will it pass? – CNET

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A smaller stimulus bill has a chance of making it through before the end of 2020.


Sarah Tew/CNET

There are two new wrinkles facing a second stimulus check and when the final COVID-19 relief bill would pass. In the final sprint to bring a $900 billion stimulus package to a vote before the end of 2020, Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, asked the Senate to vote on Friday on a standalone bill that would authorize a second stimulus check of $1,200, with $500 per child dependent. At the same time, Congress faces a midnight deadline to pass a funding bill or the government may briefly shut down.

Hawley’s bill, called the Emergency Direct Payments for Families and Workers Act of 2020, echoes provisions in the CARES Act. It serves as a challenge to the current $900 billion bipartisan compromise bill under debate that is said to contain a second stimulus check of $600 maximum per adult, with $600 per dependent, regardless of their age

The change to the definition of a dependent, if it comes to pass, would potentially include up to 15 million new people who would count toward an extra $600 apiece per household, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. However, a $600 cap for adults would lower the size of a second stimulus check for tens of millions of families.

A second smaller stimulus check would be one way to keep costs below the $1 trillion cutoff that Republican lawmakers have in the past said they’d support. Last week, the White House offered a $918 billion plan with $600 maximum stimulus checks. That was rebuffed by Democratic leaders because the proposal also cut $300 in weekly federal unemployment insurance benefits that would help prop up jobseekers until April.

Hawley’s bill received an objection on the Senate floor from Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican. As a result, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who has partnered with Hawley on the initiative, plans to resurface the request for a vote on the standalone bill for $1,200 stimulus check Friday afternoon.

Sanders’ and Hawleys’ actions might have been too late if Washington negotiators had presented the final language of the $900 billion stimulus package by Thursday evening in preparation for a Friday vote. But continued talks on both the COVID-19 relief aid and a Friday deadline to renew government funding before a shutdown have seemingly pushed the timeline at least into the weekend. 

The final legislation needs to be submitted before it can come to a vote in the House of Representatives and Senate. 

When could a stimulus bill or package pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Dec. 20 Dec. 21 Dec. 22
Dec. 21 Dec. 22 Dec. 23
Dec. 22 Dec. 23 Dec. 23 (Trump signs same day)

A coronavirus aid proposal before Jan. 1 is considered emergency legislation to institute a safety net for expiring benefits that could leave tens of million of unemployed Americans without an income and millions of households facing eviction. A broader package, like the $2.2 trillion CARES Act from March, is more likely to return to the table in early 2021, top US leaders have implied. It’s too soon to tell if that sweeping package would seek a third stimulus check for $600 or $1,200.

Read moreWant a third stimulus bill? America’s next Congress could hold the key

Though the clock is ticking, US leaders appear committed to passing a stimulus deal. 

“Guess what, if we don’t do anything, a lot of people don’t have a home to go to this holiday season,” Manchin said Wednesday from the Senate floor. “Failure is not an option.”

“We’re not leaving here without a COVID package. It’s not gonna happen. We’re gonna stay here until we get a COVID package,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday. “No matter how long it takes, we’ll be here.”

Here’s what we know about where negotiations stand right now and what could happen before the end of the year.

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A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.


Sarah Tew/CNET

How did this new $900 billion stimulus package emerge?

The $900 billion stimulus proposal is the latest variation of a $908 billion proposal from Dec. 1 that by Monday was split into two parts. The first is a core bill worth $748 billion, which contains the unemployment funding and other measures. The second is a $160 billion bill that carves off the two most contentious issues that could capsize an agreement: money for state, local and tribal funding on one hand; and a liability shield to protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits on the other.


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Neither lobe of the two-part stimulus deal contained a second stimulus check, but with the thorniest issues sloughed off, the key Democratic and Republican negotiators are seizing the monetary wiggle room to fund the popular stimulus check at a reduced rate. 

Why is a second stimulus check important for the bill?

A second stimulus check has had wide bipartisan support ever since the CARES Act passed. Over the last several months everyone from President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe 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. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not say whether Trump would refuse to sign a stimulus package that didn’t include a second check, but said Tuesday that Trump “would really like to see those stimulus checks in there.”

A variety of factors could have contributed to a second stimulus check making its way into the final bill, from popular opinion and presidential preference to that complicated bipartisan rejiggering mentioned above that freed up $160 billion, enough for a smaller stimulus check than before. 

What we do know is that 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.

What happens next with the stimulus package?

First, the stimulus bill would need to pass the House and Senate. If both chambers are working together on a deal now, there’s a good chance that would happen. Next, Trump would need to sign the rescue bill into law. After that, aid would likely begin to go out within weeks, with certain groups possibly receiving financial help before the end of 2020.

If a bill does pass that includes a direct payment, here’s how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check.

Will there be yet another stimulus package in 2021?

Biden, McConnell and others have repeatedly described this December legislation as emergency relieve instead of a sweeping economic stimulus package, and have committed to another stimulus bill in 2021.

“It’s a down payment,” Biden said Dec. 16. “An important down payment on what’s going to have to be done at the end of January and into February. But it’s very important to get done.”

Here’s everything we know right now about the chances of a third stimulus check in 2021.

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.