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Stimulus package talks: What’s happening today and what it means for your second check

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Congress has a handful of days to reach a deal before breaking for the election.


Angela Lang/CNET

White House and Democratic negotiators are again inching toward a new stimulus package, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaking daily about a new economic rescue bill. In tandem with the discussions, House Democrats are preparing to vote on a new $2.2 trillion bill based on the Heroes Act it proposed in May — this legislation would authorize a second round of stimulus checks for up to $1,200 per person, among other things. 

The bill would also reinstate $600 unemployment benefits, extend the existing Paycheck Protection Program to the airline and entertainment industries, and include further aid to struggling airlines.

Time is running out to pass legislation before the Nov. 3 election. With renewed talks, we’ve gathered some dates and identified possible scenarios that could play out whether a bill passes before the election or not. (And here are the most important things to know about stimulus checks.) We update this story often.

With an agreement soon, a new package is possible before Nov. 3

The clock is running on both sides of the aisle to agree on another stimulus package before election day. The last day a new bill could pass is still up in the air, since the schedules to break after this current session can be extended by the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. 

Possible timelines for when a stimulus bill could pass

House votes Senate votes President signs
Oct. 2 Oct. 5 Oct. 6
Oct. 8 Oct. 9 (last official day of Senate session) Oct. 13 (Columbus day is Oct. 12)
Oct. 16 Oct. 19 Oct. 20
Oct. 23 Oct. 26 Oct. 27

If nothing changes, Oct. 9 — the final day of the Senate session — is the last time a bill has to clear the upper chamber, but it still isn’t the final day a bill could pass. The House, for example, plans to postpone the start of its next break, originally scheduled for Oct. 2, until a deal is reached. If the bill passes the Senate on or by Oct. 9, the House could pass it after that date. And if negotiators close in on a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could also compel the Senate to stay in session longer or come back early to vote on a proposal. 

Still, it’s less likely a bill could pass days before the election as the presidential candidates — President Donald Trump, who must sign the bill into law, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden — complete their campaigns.

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If the bill fails, the president could seek executive action

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, Trump signed one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. It’s possible more executive actions could be forthcoming if this final attempt at negotiations fails before the election, though there’s been no development after Trump first suggested his administration might consider another executive action to bypass Congress.

Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions address slowing evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

A bill could go on hold until the election results are in

With the Nov. 3 election weeks away, the atmosphere in Washington may be too politically charged to pass more economic relief bills, and leaders may want to see what happens in the period after the election on Nov. 3 and before the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021.

With 470 seats in the US Congress — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats — up for a vote in November, any change in majority to the House or Senate, and to the presidency, shifts the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

Congress could focus on emergency standalone bills after the election

If the Senate rejects the House’s new, smaller bill, some in Washington say the way to break the stalemate is to pass a series of even narrower bills that target specific areas — such as the entertainment and airline industries — but that’s less likely to happen before the election.

The Senate made one attempt with its Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, but that proposal failed in the Senate. The House also presented a piecemeal bill seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election in which many Americans, wary of in-person voting during a pandemic, will likely be voting by mail

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus 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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