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Third stimulus check for $2,000 on the table — where things stand now

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now that Democrats are set to have a working majority in the U.S. Senate, a third, much larger stimulus check is likely to be a top priority for lawmakers in Congress. 

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who will be the Senate majority leader after Kamala Harris' inauguration as vice president Jan. 20, said on Wednesday (Jan. 8) that $2,000 payments will definitely be high on his agenda. 

"One of the first things that I want to do when our new senators are seated is deliver the $2,000 checks to the American families," Schumer said. (The Senate is now split 50-50, and the sitting vice president is the tiebreaker.)

In December, after eight months of negotiations among House, Senate and White House leaders, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a second round of stimulus checks that amounted to $600 per person. The first round of stimulus payments in March 2020 came to $1,200 per taxpayer plus some money for dependents.

President-elect Joe Biden said Monday that he supported a new round of $2,000 payments. Incoming Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia), who won his Tuesday runoff election for one of Georgia's  Senate seats, also said that $2,000 checks would be his first priority once seated. 

"We ought to pass the $2,000 stimulus relief and give ordinary struggling people who are just literally trying to keep their head above water what they need, so that we can begin to get the economy going again," Warnock said Wednesday

How likely is a third stimulus check to pass?

As Bloomberg points out, the quickest way to get $2,000 checks approved and on their way to eligible Americans would be to get approval via a floor vote in the Senate. 

The bill would then have to pass the House, which quickly approved a separate bill for $2,000 checks in the last days of the previous Congress that ended Jan. 3, and would be likely to do so again. (Bills cannot be carried over from one Congress to the next.) 

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senate majority leader until Jan. 20, attached "poison pill" amendments to that earlier legislation when he introduced it in the Senate, ensuring that Democrats would not vote for it.

Even if a new bill for $2,000 checks comes to the Senate floor, Democrats would need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, meaning at least 10 Republicans would have to get on board. 

A handful of GOP senators indicated in December that they would support the earlier $2,000 check bill, but two of them lost their seats Tuesday.  It's not clear how many will take that approach after the Democrats grab control of the chamber later this month. 

How soon would I receive a third stimulus check? 

The $600 payments approved in late December were processed quickly and began landing in bank accounts just over a week after the legislation was signed by President Trump on Dec. 27. 

If $2,000 checks were to pass soon after Jan. 20, then eligible Americans could see those funds later this month or early in February. 

If you're still waiting on your second check, the IRS is sending out payments until Jan. 15 — the deadline to finish processing payments included in the $900 billion relief package. You can track your check using the IRS Get My Payment tool

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers tech, security, and personal finance. She has strong opinions on what passes for good coffee and would rather be hiking right now.