While Joseph R. Biden’s election to the presidency and his quick creation of a pandemic task force (opens in new tab) may provide some hope for a second stimulus bill, including stimulus check 2, that relief may not come until next year — if it comes at all.
Economists are pushing for some level of stimulus spending, though analysts acknowledge (opens in new tab) that a second relief package may well be smaller than the Democrats' $2.2 trillion HEROES Act that passed the House this fall.
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During the election campaign, Biden suggested (opens in new tab) a second round of direct payments as well as additional unemployment benefits, so it’s possible that his upcoming response plan will include these elements.
But the president-elect won’t be sworn in until Jan. 20, 2021. Until then, the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Senate, as well as the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, will remain in the same spot they’ve been in for months: at odds over how much to spend on stimulus relief and how to allocate funds. And Americans will continue to wait for a deal to be reached.
Where negotiations stand now
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent September and October inching closer to a $2 trillion deal — and a consensus on the need for stimulus check 2 — although there was disagreement over provisions like aid to state and local governments.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has so far resisted a second stimulus package. He will remain in charge of the Senate until at least early January, and possibly much longer if Democrats lose two runoff elections in Georgia scheduled for Jan. 5.
In September and October, the chamber held two failed votes on separate $500 billion “skinny” bills, both of which were largely symbolic, and neither of which included stimulus check 2. If the Republicans keep control of the Senate in 2021, they may not be willing to go any further.
McConnell did say last week that he would be open to passing stimulus legislation by the end of 2020 and suggested to reporters on Friday (opens in new tab) that Congress should pass a pared-down bill, which Pelosi has rejected.
But Congress also has to contend (opens in new tab) with a Dec. 11 deadline to reach an agreement on funding the government to avoid a shutdown. As The Washington Post reports (opens in new tab), Trump has not indicated whether he’ll sign such a spending bill — or whether stimulus relief is even feasible during the remainder of his term.