Will There Be Second Stimulus Check Before End of 2020?

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Stimulus Check Direct payments to households.

Before the election, President Trump urged Congress to approve additional coronavirus aid that included another round of direct checks.

While Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed new optimism that they will reach a coronavirus-aid deal, the current round of talks excludes a second round of stimulus checks for households. Here is the latest on the negotiations, and a look at whether checks could still be on the table.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been working for weeks on a $908 billion package of coronavirus aid, much of which has been agreed upon. But lawmakers are still in negotiations over how to work out the two thorniest components: funding for state and local aid and what sort of legal protections to provide businesses, schools and other entities operating during the pandemic. Lawmakers have said they hope to finalize an agreement and turn it into legislative text in the next couple of days. Congressional leaders have been involved in the discussions, but could play a larger role in coming days.

Will that agreement include another round of stimulus checks?

The current bipartisan proposal includes enhanced jobless aid, but doesn’t include funding for another round of direct payments that would reach most households. Including payments similar to the $1,200-plus checks in the spring would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and Republicans have been clear that $900 billion is already more than they would like to spend. Many Republicans are terming this round of talks an emergency aid package, rather than a stimulus plan.

But the White House has pushed Republicans to pursue a new round of checks, and the Trump administration made its own offer late Tuesday that included payments of $600 a person.

It’s not out of the question yet. Democrats and a few Republicans are still pushing to add a second round of stimulus checks into any agreement this year. And before the election, President Trump urged Congress to send him additional coronavirus aid that included another round of direct checks. Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said Monday he had urged Mr. Trump to veto any bill that didn’t include them. And many Democrats are still hoping to see them included.

“Direct checks are an excellent way to get money into the hands of people who desperately need it,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said.

How quickly would a potential new round of payments arrive?

If passed into law, a second round of payments could likely happen faster than the first one. That is because the IRS has information it lacked earlier in the year about households that don’t typically file tax returns, including Social Security beneficiaries and people who get veterans benefits. That means the government could send more people electronic payments and have less reliance on the slower check-printing process.

One potential complication, though, is whether a second set of payments would overlap with IRS preparations for the annual tax-filing season, which typically begins in late January and requires significant agency resources before then to program and test computer systems.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed dropping two of the issues that have been the hardest for Democrats and Republicans to agree upon in a new Covid relief deal – state and local money and liability protections – to pass a deal now that both sides can agree on.

The remarks from McConnell create a new opening to potentially pass relief during the lame duck session and come after the Senate majority leader has previously made clear how much of a priority liability protections are for him and Senate Republicans.

“We can’t leave without doing a Covid bill, the country needs it,” McConnell said Tuesday.

He went on to say, “What’s the way forward? We know the new administration is going to be asking for another package. What I recommend is we set aside liability and set aside state and local and pass those things that we can agree on knowing full well we’ll be back at this after the first of the year.”

It’s notable that McConnell referenced a new administration given that he has not yet referred to Joe Biden as President-elect.