CORONAVIRUS

Second stimulus check: what can happen after Biden wins Election 2020?

A smaller stimulus package could emerge during a new Biden administration, especially if the GOP holds onto the Senate. What can Biden offer to unemployed Americans?

Second stimulus check: what can happen after Biden wins Election 2020?
JOE RAEDLE AFP

Joe Biden won the presidential election, and on Monday announced his covid-19 task force to take on the pandemic. "Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts," Biden said. The president-elect outlined his plan during his election campaign. It includes more direct payments but the amounts aren’t yet clear.

Biden and the Democratic party have made it clear that they want another big stimulus package. The 77-year-old has been calling for covid-19 relief since April. On Sunday, the US reported an average of more than 100,000 new covid-19 cases over the last week.

Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan includes extending unemployment aid and implementing another Main Street relief package. It’s likely that these types of provisions will be included in the next stimulus package. The new president also vows to “create millions of good-paying jobs” to help Americans get back on their feet by producing manufacturing and infrastructure projects across the United States.

It is expected that Biden will reveal more details of his coronavirus response plan this week. Negotiations on the eventual stimulus bill between Democrats and Republicans will be on the agenda. Many have predicted that the route to passing another stimulus package before and after the inauguration will be contentious and far from plain sailing.

The CARES Act, passed back in March, was the first stimulus package intended to help people financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most popular aspects of the act was a stimulus check of up to $1,200 sent to over 160 million Americans.

Biden's plan will include more direct stimulus payments, but it doesn't specify if any of the qualifications will change. Money for small businesses, emergency sick leave, and fiscal relief for states are some of the areas set to be financed.

Not everyone will qualify for a second stimulus check

With the first round of checks, Congress set income limits based on adjusted gross income. Your status as a dependent or adult and your citizenship helped decide if you got all or some of the first check and it will likely also affect the second. If the eligibility requirements change with the second check, you and your family could find yourself with more money in your payment, or less. A new rule could potentially provide families with more money but there may also be changes to your life circumstances, for example the birth of a child, or becoming unemployed which could affect the amount potentially received.

If the Democrats take over the Senate, a second round of stimulus would likely be larger. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, have been recently negotiating a package somewhere between $1.8 and $2.2 trillion. This includes a second stimulus check and also additional weekly unemployment benefits. Pelosi’s framework evolved from the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which the House passed in May of this year.

Lawmakers are set to return to Washington this week and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said work on a new aid bill is “job one.” Pelosi earlier rejected McConnell's call for a narrow bill. “It doesn’t appeal to me at all, because they still have not agreed to crush the virus. If you don’t crush the virus, we’re still going to have to be dealing with the consequences of the virus."

Back to drawing board after election

The Senate returned from recess on Monday and the House follows on November 16. The package is likely to include the extension of extra unemployment benefits, stimulus funds for small businesses and a widespread coronavirus testing and tracing program.

The amount distributed in March to over 160 million Americans included up to $1,200 for individuals, and $2,400 for married couples with $500 per dependent. Those amounts aren’t guaranteed a second time round, however, and some are predicting a smaller stimulus package could be the only thing that will emerge during a new Biden administration, especially if the GOP holds onto the Senate.