Stimulus package: Congress eyes Sunday vote with $600 second check, not $1,200

December 20, 2020 0 By boss


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Congress could be very close to a vote on a stimulus package that includes a second stimulus check.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Will Congress vote on a $900 billion bipartisan stimulus package on Sunday? That’s the best case scenario in Washington as work on the COVID-19 relief bill slid past yet another Friday cutoff. Friday evening, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a short-term funding bill that avoids a government shutdown until Sunday night. That could buy lawmakers enough time to complete a stimulus package that’s also tied to funding the government and could contain a second stimulus check for $600.

A joint coronavirus/funding omnibus bill could come to a vote as early as 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday, citing that the bill needs at least 18 hours more work.

“I’m still somewhat hopeful we could wrap this up if the House moves quickly and we gotta take it up and do it tomorrow night,” said Sen. John Thune, the Senate Majority Whip, according to Politico reporters. “But I would say it’s also very possible that it rolls into Monday.”

Hopes among some lawmakers for a second stimulus check for $1,200, or that a separate bill would authorize the money were dashed on Friday as two senators attempted to bring the a standalone bill (PDF) to a vote and were rebuffed.

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

With the the $1,200 stimulus check proposal clipped, focus remains on 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 in a second stimulus check would potentially extend the payment to as many as 15 million additional people. That would potentially bring an extra $600 apiece for their respective households, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. However, a $600 cap for adults would lower the total size of a second stimulus check for tens of millions of families.

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)

The $900 billion stimulus proposal would also include $300 in weekly unemployment money for either 10 or 16 weeks.  Many top US leaders consider the bill to be a coronavirus relief package that renews critical expiring federal benefits at a time when the nation is seeing surging infections, hospitalizations and “horrific” deaths as a result of COVID-19. Federal inaction is projected to leave tens of million of unemployed Americans without an income and millions of households facing eviction

“Guess what, if we don’t do anything, a lot of people don’t have a home to go to this holiday season,” Sen, Joe Manchin, who helped craft the bipartisan bill, said Dec. 16. “Failure is not an option.”

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.

“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 Dec. 15. “No matter how long it takes, we’ll be here.”

Why isn’t a $1,200 second stimulus check part of 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.

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A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.


Sarah Tew/CNET

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 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 is seen as one way to 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 that complicated bipartisan rejiggering mentioned above that freed up $160 billion, enough for a smaller stimulus check than before. 


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Where did the $900 billion stimulus package come from?

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.

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. 

How soon could stimulus package aid go out?

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 bill in 2021?

Biden, McConnell and others have repeatedly described this December legislation as emergency relief 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.





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