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Stimulus check 2: McConnell now wants bill by end of year

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After suggesting in the run-up to Election Day that a stimulus relief package would have to wait until 2021, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is now calling for a bill that might include stimulus check 2 before the end of the year. 

McConnell won reelection on Tuesday, after which he changed course regarding the urgency of lawmakers considering and approving a second stimulus bill. 

"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," McConnell said during a press conference Wednesday (Nov. 4). 

The Senate has mostly stood back from the off-again-on-again stimulus talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is representing the Trump administration and, in theory, all congressional Republicans. 

Instead, Senate Republicans focused in recent weeks on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. They held a largely symbolic procedural vote on a $500 billion "skinny" stimulus bill, which was blocked by Democrats, late last month. That package did not include stimulus check 2. 

It's not clear what McConnell will propose now, but he did suggest a future bill could include "more for state and local governments" — a provision that Democrats have pushed for. He has also expressed support in the past for another round of $1,200 checks. 

The Washington Post reports that Pelosi did not immediately respond to McConnell's comments. 

What's on the table already? 

Prior to Election Day, Pelosi and Mnuchin had come close to agreeing on an approximately $2 trillion package similar to the Democrats'  revised HEROES Act, which passed a House vote in early October. 

The two sides did agree on the need for stimulus check 2, but the amount of aid for state and local governments and for coronavirus testing remained obstacles to a deal, as did the Republican insistence on liability protections for businesses against pandemic-related lawsuits. 

Senate Republicans have balked at spending anywhere close to $2 trillion, no matter what the White House negotiates.  

Claim your first stimulus check

The IRS is still accepting claims for outstanding  first-round stimulus checks. Millions of Americans may have missed out on their money — either their $1,200 payment or a $500 dependent supplement — due to not having filed tax returns in recent years. 

If you received a notice that you may be eligible for payment, or if you believe you're missing your benefits, enter your information into the non-filers tool on IRS.gov by Nov. 21.