$2,000 second stimulus check: House to vote Monday to stop a government shutdown

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American’s stimulus package is once again in trouble. Here’s the situation with a second stimulus check.


CNET

The House of Representatives will vote Dec. 28 on a standalone bill to authorize a second stimulus check for up to $2,000 apiece. If successful, a $2,000 stimulus check would replace the $600 payment authorized in the $900 billion stimulus bill passed overwhelmingly by Republican and Democratic lawmakers earlier this week. 

There’s just one problem: It isn’t expected to pass the Senate, leaving the fate of a second stimulus check — and the entire $2.3 trillion bill to jointly fund COVID-19 relief and government operations in 2021 — once again teetering on the edge.

Dec. 28 is the same day the federal government once again faces a shutdown, unless yet another stopgap bill passes Congress to keep the lights on.

The trouble began Tuesday when 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.

Trump has not outright said he would veto or decline to sign the bill. But if he doesn’t approve it by Saturday, critical federal unemployment benefits will lapse, leaving millions without a financial lifeline. The federal eviction ban ends Dec. 31, and other programs providing support to Americans on the brink will evaporate.

The nearly 5,600-page stimulus-and-funding bill has been flown to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., where he is expected to stay until at least Jan. 1. Trump could sign the bill there. The bill’s COVID-19 segment that contains the second stimulus check and the segment that funds the federal government passed Congress as a unit and cannot be separated.

If the president would veto the bill, Congress would have time to try to override the veto. But if the president would just let the bill sit on his desk without signing it, the bill would simply die when the current congressional term expires on Jan. 3. This would force the new Congress to start the process all over again.

“I think a lot of people both within the White House and in the Republican party on Capitol Hill, as well as Democrats, hope that he calms down and simply signs the bill very quietly, and doesn’t say anything about it,” Politico chief economic correspondent Ben White told CNBC.

A Republican leader in the Senate, Roy Blunt of Missouri, agrees. “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 Thursday, according to The Hill.

Monday will mark House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s second attempt to raise the second stimulus check ceiling from $600 to $2,000 per person, after a method known as unanimous consent was blocked by House Republicans on Thursday. 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 Thursday 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 address another round of short-term funding to avoid a costly government shutdown.

While we closely follow the situation, read on for more information about the $2,000 stimulus check amount (the figure was advanced by a number of Democrats in mid-2020), the scenarios that could play out next and what we know about a third stimulus check for 2021. This story is updated often with new information.


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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know



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That $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 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 already wants 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 quickly 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 $1,200 or $2,000 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.





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