December 3, 2020
5 ways Tuesday's election could change the course of a second stimulus check

How results from tomorrow’s election could change the fate of a second stimulus check


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What does the election have to do with stimulus checks? Everything.


Angela Lang/CNET

With control of the White House and both chambers of Congress on the ballot, the results of tomorrow’s general election could very much determine the outlines of the next stimulus bill, including when individuals and families would receive more financial aid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to try to approve another round of stimulus funding in the “lame duck” session after the election and before the new Congress starts in January. “We also have important work to do after the first of the year,” Pelosi said on MSNBC Oct. 30. “So, to the extent that we can address some of this now, we’ll have more to do later.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, suggested Washington will wait to tackle additional financial assistance until after the new year. “I think that’ll be something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Oct. 30. “We probably need to do another package, certainly more modest than the $3 trillion-dollar Nancy Pelosi package,” he said, referring to Pelosi’s proposal from May. Democratic negotiators are now working from a $2.2 trillion framework

Washington — and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden — does remain committed to more assistance, which could provide a second direct payment of up to $1,200 per qualified adult and more in some cases. (P.S. Here’s how the IRS calculates stimulus amounts.)

Depending on who prevails, the results of the election could affect the next stimulus payment in five major ways. We update this story with new information. 

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

The election results could determine when a new bill could come together

How eager Democratic and Republican negotiators are to reboot talks and hammer out an agreement on a new stimulus proposal could have everything to do with who wins what. Who becomes president and which party takes control of the House of Representatives and the Senate could motivate legislators to either strike a deal soon or wait for next year.

“The motivation level on both sides will depend on how the election comes out,” said Senate Republican Whip John Thune, The Hill reported Oct. 30.

The majority party could keep or drop a stimulus payment

If Democrats win both chambers of Congress plus the White House, a new stimulus package could look very different from one that required bipartisan support. For example, a large package could pass a Democratic-controlled Congress that included a new stimulus check, money for testing and school reopening and the like. Or, with a split Congress, a much narrower bill to bring targeted aid to programs considered critical could make it through before the inauguration, which might mean that a separate stimulus package could potentially come in early 2021. Right now we have to wait and see.


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Election results could decide when a bill with a stimulus check is voted on

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 said Oct. 30 that he favors working on more relief after Jan. 20. Trump has promised “a tremendous stimulus package immediately after the election,” if Republicans sweep Congress and the presidency. Pelosi has said she wants “a clean slate” if Biden wins the presidential election. The new term of Congress convenes on Jan. 3, which could also change the political makeup of the Senate and the House of Representatives, a shift that could affect whether a bill is supported or opposed.

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

Election results will influence 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.

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 allotting more direct payments is approved. Learn more about the five priority groups we identified that helped determine when you got your first payment.

A new assistance bill could change stimulus check qualifications multiple ways

Democratic and Republican negotiators both want to make changes to the eligibility requirements from the first stimulus check, but have different ideas about what should change.

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 could 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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