CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: 20 January could be a key date for a new round of payments

Depending on whether Congress can hammer out a deal in the next couple weeks, Americans may have to wait until 20 January, Inauguration Day, to see action.

Second stimulus check: 20 January could be a key date for a new round of payments
Mark Makela AFP

The final hope for Americans, suffering financially from the economic hardship inflicted by the covid-19 pandemic, to see a second round of stimulus checks this year will come before 11 December as Congress needs to agree on a budget to finance the Government. After that Americans will most likely have to wait for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20 January to put new Presidential authority and drive behind any new relief spending.

Congress went home for Thanksgiving and will be in recess for the rest of the week leaving any possible negotiations on hold for the time being. When the lawmakers return, they will need to negotiate funding for the government to avoid a shutdown before Christmas. If that were to happen, it would complicate an already difficult transition of power as President Trump refuses to concede and the vast majority of Republican lawmakers still refuse to acknowledge publicly that Joe Biden is the President-elect. There is hope though that as they hammer out the budget that some stimulus funding may find its way into the bill but another round of $1200 Economic Impact Payments being included looks like a longshot.

20 January, Inauguration Day and a new administration

When Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President on 20 January he will have a lot on his desk that will need tackling. He is already putting together his cabinet and preparing to deal with the issues that are confronting the US, primarily the coronavirus pandemic and the economic consequences that it has wrought. A new round of stimulus checks is in Biden’s economic stimulus plan, although he will need to get it through both chambers of Congress.

Depending on the direness of the economic situation in two months' time this may be a hard slog as the expected-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that he doesn’t feel that such a measure is necessary again. However, economists have been stressing the need of just such a tool to help the economy continue to recover from one of the biggest collapses of the US and world economy since the Great Depression.

What would another round of stimulus checks look like?

So far, the HEROES Act, passed by the House of Representatives twice, has included another round of Economic Impact Payments along the same lines as the CARES Act with slight modifications. The first bill died in the Senate, at the hands of self-styled “Grim Reaper” of House Democrat bills, with McConnell’s decision not to put the bill to a vote. The second has been languishing since it was passed in October as the Democrats worked to find common ground with the White House who said they could get enough Republicans behind the bill to get it to pass.

In order to get relief funds to Americans under a Biden administration there may need to be some adjustments made but it’s all just speculation until there are hard numbers on paper. If legislation on new stimulus checks were to pass when the Biden administration takes the reins of power checks should start to go out the door relatively quickly to eligible Americans. The infrastructure from the first round is in place at the IRS so there won’t be as much time lost to get the wheels rolling.

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