November 25, 2020
9 things to know about another stimulus check after the House vote

Election counts continue. The results may impact your second stimulus check


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What’s the fate of stimulus checks? We’ll soon know.


Angela Lang/CNET

The last few US battleground states are still counting their Nov. 3 election ballots, the final results of are poised to impact American policy for the next four years as well as shape the content, discourse and timeline of another stimulus bill and the programs it would support, including a second stimulus check. We have some hints at how things could play out, though the results and their impact are still far from certain.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed direction on Wednesday and threw his support behind getting a stimulus deal done in 2020 instead of waiting until the new year.

“We need another rescue package … I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,” McConnell said, calling passage of a relief bill “job one.” However, McConnell has previously supported a new stimulus check of up to $1,200 for qualifying adults, with additional money given to families with child dependents.

It may be that the final makeup of the House of Representatives and Senate and the office of the presidency itself will also influence whether that coronavirus rescue package includes a new direct payment and funding for more weekly unemployment benefits, another hot topic. (Here’s every benefit set to expire Dec. 31 if there’s no more aid.)

There are six big ways that the election results might impact the authorization of a new stimulus check — read on for more details. This story was updated recently.

Read more: Not everyone would qualify for a new stimulus check. What we know

When a new bill comes together

The final outcomes of the election will determine how quickly negotiations toward a stimulus agreement resume. Political divisions are expected to remain deep, with neither party controlling Congress and the presidency. That could prolong the passage of a bill if agreements are slow to develop, as they have been. 

It may also be that a much narrower bill to bring targeted aid to programs considered critical could make it through before the inauguration, with a different stimulus package potentially coming in early 2021. Right now we have to continue to wait and see.

Read moreNobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not so fast

If it contains a second stimulus check

McConnell may aim to pass a small bill and block a larger one. If the Senate retains its Republican majority as projected, his party would likely be able to block any larger bills they oppose, including a stimulus check. However, the Senate’s Republican-authored HEALS Act proposal from July did contain a second stimulus check, and the House of Representatives, White House and presidential candidate Joe Biden all support a second check.


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When a bill with a stimulus bill gets a vote

Senators, representatives and President Donald Trump have all said they want to pass another stimulus bill after the election. But exactly when after the election is the question. There are two time periods of note. The first is the lame duck session from Nov. 4 to Jan. 3, when the new Congress starts. The other is after the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.

McConnell hinted Oct. 30 that he wouldn’t bring the Senate to vote on more relief after Jan. 20, but changed his tune the morning after the election.

“As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few months, we need another rescue package,” McConnell said, according to CNBC. “Hopefully, the partisan passions that prevented us from doing another rescue package will subside with the election. And I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year.”

As Senate leader, McConnell decides when to bring legislation to a vote. His new statement may signal one less hurdle to pass a bill, but another stimulus check still isn’t guaranteed to be part of it.

Read more: Would you use your second check like these people?

The timeline for sending a check

Once again, there are two issues to consider when we think of how soon the IRS could send out a second stimulus check. The first is that the makeup of the incoming Congress and presidency could either buoy current leaders or potentially cause them to dig in their heels until the official swearing-in of the new term. That might mean a check would be approved closer to December, or later, in January or February, depending on how negotiations continue post-election.

Then there’s the question of how long it will take for the IRS to mobilize the first wave of stimulus checks, as well as payments for other groups, once a bill allocating more direct payments is approved. Learn more about the five priority groups we identified that helped determine when you got your first payment.

Which qualifications could change or stay the same

Democratic and Republican negotiators both want to make changes to the eligibility requirements from the first stimulus check, but have different ideas about who should and shouldn’t get a stimulus check.

For example, the Democratic proposals support sending certain undocumented immigrants to the US who pay taxes the same $1,200 stimulus check afforded to US citizens at home and abroad, as well as some people living in US territories. They’d also either broaden the definition of a dependent to include college students and older adults, or else approve of $1,000 per child dependent instead of $500 apiece. There may also be changes to some child support situations.

Republican proposals originated the $1,000 allocation per child dependent.

It’s also possible a new bill could clarify if people who are imprisoned are eligible to receive a stimulus check. The issue is under current legal review.

New eligibility rules could get you a bigger or smaller payment

New qualifications might dictate a new total amount of stimulus payment for you. We’ve made some calculations to show you how you might be affected. In addition to changes in a bill that would show up in your next direct payment, there may be changes to your life circumstances since last April that could alter the size of a second check, in either direction. For more details, this is how the IRS determines how much money your particular check would be.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s what to do if you haven’t received your first payment and how to calculate how much money a second check could bring you.



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