Coronavirus USA

Second stimulus check schedule: the earliest date a second round be voted on and passed

The Senate adjourned for vacations on 7 August, which means there is little time for Republicans and Democrats to vote and agree on the latest stimulus bill.

Second stimulus check schedule: the earliest date a second round be voted on and passed
MANDEL NGAN AFP

Up until a few weeks ago, Republicans and Democrats had been debating the latest stimulus package in the Senate with several proposals on the table. The Democrat-led HEROES Act narrowly passed through the House of Representatives in May but fell flat on the floor of the upper house with Republicans favouring a pared down package with federal funding limited to $1 trillion as opposed to the $3 trillion provided in the Democrat proposal. The HEALS Act, presented on 27 July by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has met with resistance from both sides of the floor with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying it falls “far short” of what is needed to boost the ailing U.S. economy and provide assistance to millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Congress adjourned for the August recess on Monday 10th and won’t return until after Labor Day on 7 September. With no deal in the pipeline for a new coronavirus relief package, the earliest that a deal could be struck will be after Congress returns from vacation on 8 September. Even then, a deal with not miraculously happen on the first day back. The House of Representatives is not due to reconvene for voting until 14 September. Members have been on stand-by during their vacation and could still be asked to return to Washington at 24-hours’ notice if a deal on new stimulus legislation is reached. For any new bill to be passed, members are required to cast their vote in person. 

Related: When can I expect my second stimulus check?

Republicans and Democrats agree on second stimulus check

The two parties are both in agreement that another round of Economic Impact Payments is required and both the HEROES and HEALS Acts include a round of $1,200 stimulus payments per individual. There is some division over the amount dependents will receive, with Republicans proposing $500 and Democrats wanting to push that up to $1,200 per dependent.

However, while the base amount for individual checks remains the same under both drafts there are other factors in play as negotiations continue: Donald Trump has said he wants a second round of stimulus checks to go “way higher” than the first tranche released under the CARES Act, possibly up to $2,000 while a Republican counter-proposal led by Senators Bill Cassidy, Steve Daines, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio would see adults and dependent children each receive a payment closer to half of that - $1,000.

However the final bill turns out, time is running out for the two parties to reach a consensus. Observers in Washington have long postulated that a final package will fall somewhere between the amounts laid out in HEROES and HEALS, in line with the $2.2 trillion provided by the CARES Act. If everything goes smoothly and without any setbacks, the earliest a deal could be passed by the would be Monday 14th September, it would then need to be approved by the Senate the following day before it can be signed off by president Donald Trump - the whole  process would take a minimum of three days meaning that any new bill won't come into effect until 16th September at the very earliest. If that happens, the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) could begin delivering the second stimulus payments the week starting 21 September.     

It is important to remember that the House also has other fiscal policy deadlines coming up next month including the Federal Budget and National Flood Insurance Program, both of which must be resolved by 30 September - that could mean that a new stimulus package will be given priority over other, less pressing matters.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Second stimulus check payment timeline

The first CARES Act was passed by the Senate on 25 March, was approved in the House the following day and was signed passed into law by Trump on 27 March. The very first stimulus checks arrived in people’s bank accounts on the weekend of 11 and 12 of April, meaning there was a lag time of around two weeks from the bill becoming law to people receiving payments. The first big round of payments was deposited in people’s bank accounts on 15 April. 

Negotiations between Republicans, Democrats and the White House began on 28 July. If the bill is to get through before the August recess the two parties have just three days to reach an agreement so that the bill can be passed through the Senate on 6 August. 

Once the negotiated bill is through the Senate it should be a formality for it go through the House on 7 August, and for the President to sign on 10 August (the next working day after Friday, 7 August).

A bill signed on 10 August would see the very first checks hit people’s banks on the week beginning 24 August. 

Overall, if a second round of payments was similar to the first the vast majority of people should expect to get their payment by the end of the first week of September. 

See also

Republicans launch HEALS Act in the Senate

Republicans and Democrats divided on Senate HEALS Act

Differences between CARES, HEALS and HEROES Act

Second stimulus check: how much would HEALS give dependents?

However, if the situation with the second round of stimulus checks is similar to the timescale for CARES, the second payments could still be going out 20 weeks after the bill passed. For an August package that would be just before Christmas 2020, for a September package that would be into January 2021. 

There is of course the chance that the IRS will be able to get the stimulus payments out faster this time around, because the systems and processes are in place from the first round and the IRS have the details more readily to hand.