Senate unveils $500 billion relief bill — what it means for stimulus check 2

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Stimulus check 2 is not included in a new coronavirus relief bill revealed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) on Tuesday (Sept. 8). 

The $500 billion "skinny" bill instead attempts to bypass the stalled stimulus-spending negotiations with targeted initiatives. It includes $300 in enhanced federal unemployment benefits per week through Dec. 27, aid for the Paycheck Protection Program and liability insurance for institutions attempting to reopen during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

According to Politico, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the new bill on Thursday amid calls from lawmakers of both parties and the White House to come to an agreement on stimulus spending. 

"The American people don't need us to keep arguing over what might be perfect, they need us to actually make a law," McConnell said, asserting that the vote is "going to happen this week." 

But it's unclear whether this "skinny" proposal will have enough votes to clear a majority, much less top the Senate's 60-vote threshold to pass. 

Not only is the $500 billion bill far off from the Democrats' $2 trillion wish list for bigger bill that does include stimulus check 2, but it seems to lack universal GOP support, too. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’s “not for borrowing any more money," according to Politico.

The bill will need at least 51 GOP votes to achieve a symbolic majority. Because of the Senate's filibuster rule, it will need 60 votes to pass, but that won't happen unless several of the 45 Democrats (and two New England independents who vote with Democrats) break ranks.

Second stimulus check negotiations — where things stand

Although a stimulus check 2 amount is not included in McConnell's new bill, we could see efforts made toward another round of direct payments now that the Senate is back in session after its August recess.

Democrats still are pushing for something resembling the HEROES Act they passed back in May, although they've knocked $1 trillion off the overall cost of their legislation during negotiations with Republicans. 

Both the HEROES Act and the GOP's rival HEALS Act, proposed in July but not yet introduced for a vote, promise another round of $1,200 stimulus checks for each qualifying taxpayer. 

You'd think that might be enough agreement to get the ball rolling, but the two parties are still at least $700 billion apart. Democrats want to give a ton of money to state and municipal governments to offset tax shortfalls and resume the $600 weekly unemployment-benefit supplements that ended July 31; Republicans want to spend a lot less.

The Democrats' persistence might lead to eventual legislation, but the tentative stimulus check 2 date is in limbo until agreements are finalized. So the GOP are putting the contentious proposals into the "skinny" bill.

Meanwhile, President Donald J. Trump has suggested taking $300 billion in leftover money intended for small-business relief and using it to send out stimulus checks.

Lawmakers are also aware of the looming budget deadline. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have, however, agreed to avoid a government shutdown with a short-term spending bill if the parties are still at odds come the end of the month.

Pelosi and Mnuchin's apparent cooperation on government spending could be a good sign for stimulus spending, meaning the possibility of a second stimulus check is still on the table.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.