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‘Just give us a vote.’ $2,000 second stimulus check’s fate is up to the Senate – CNET

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After months of negotiation, Americans’ stimulus package has passed, including a second stimulus check. Now the Senate is weighing a larger payment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On Thursday — New Year’s Eve — the Senate made little visible progress toward boosting the $600 payments President Donald Trump approved on Sunday to $2,000. With the new Senate convening this Sunday, Jan. 3, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged fellow Senators to vote on the larger amount now.

“Just give us a vote on the House-passed bill so we can get help now to people who desperately need it,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Thursday. “We can do it today.” By the end of the day, however, it was unclear if or when the Senate would vote on the $2,000 bill either Friday or Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday introduced his own verison of the $2,000 legislation that would link the larger payments to a repeal of Section 230 and the creation of an advisory committee that would “study the integrity and administration” of the November general election, two areas Trump requested the Senate address after he signed into law the $2.3 trillion combination federal budget and COVID relief bill Sunday evening.

Democrats pushed back, requesting McConnell let the Senate vote on the House bill that addresses just the $2,000 amount. “Everybody understands that when you combine all three elements, this is a poison pill designed to kill that legislation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on the Senate floor Thursday.

McConnell said he joined the items as a way to address Trump’s three primary concerns at once. “The Senate is not going to split apart the three issues that President Trump linked together just because Democrats are afraid to address two of them,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

It’s up to the Senate whether or not the $600 stimulus checks get bumped to $2,000. The House on Monday agreed to boost the $600 stimulus payments in the new COVID relief legislation to the larger amount. But time is running out, and the Senate also plans to vote to override Trump’s veto of the defense spending bill on Friday or Saturday before it adjourns on Sunday.

The $600 stimulus check is part of the bipartisan relief package that renews programs both Democrats and Republicans agree are critical, including $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits, money to help small businesses meet employee payroll, a month-long extension to the end of January of a federal eviction ban and assistance to help distribute the coronavirus vaccine.

President-elect Joe Biden has referred to the stimulus portion of the joint package as a “first step and down payment,” forecasting a larger bill after he’s sworn into office — including a third stimulus check. Here’s how we got here and what could happen next.

House on Monday voted in favor of the $2,000 second stimulus check bill

The House of Representatives passed the CASH Act (PDF) to authorize the $2,000 second stimulus payment for every qualifying adult and dependent on Monday and sent it to the Senate to consider. It isn’t clear when the legislation will come up for a vote in the Senate and if it can pass. The larger amount has been picking up support on the Republican side, with Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are both on the ballot in the Georgia run-off election in January — tweeting their support for $2,000 checks.

Democrats advocated through the summer and fall for a larger second stimulus check as part of a broader aid package. Trump distanced himself from negotiations, and his administration’s own negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, offered the $600 ceiling for the second stimulus check totals. 

Republican and Democratic lawmakers passed the two-in-one omnibus package by overwhelming margins on Dec. 21, after months of frustrating on-and-off negotiations.

While we closely follow the situation, read on for more information about the $2,000 stimulus check amount (the figure was advanced by a number of Democrats in mid-2020), the scenarios that could play out next and what we know about a third stimulus check for 2021. This story is updated often with new information.

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Trump’s $2,000 stimulus check figure covers familiar ground

Since spring, several Democrats have suggested a $2,000 stimulus check, including Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey and one-time presidential hopeful (and now New York mayoral hopeful) Andrew Yang. Some supporters of this figure have even suggested sending checks on a monthly rather than a one-time basis.

Biden already supports a third stimulus check

Some in Washington see the $900 billion stimulus bill as a precursor to a larger relief package in 2021, one that may include a third stimulus check and other provisions that Republicans and Democrats agreed to leave out this round to pass a critical deal. 

“This bill is just the first step, a down payment, in addressing the crisis — crises, more than one — that we’re in,” Biden said Tuesday, emphasizing that he would like to see a third stimulus check.

How quickly could the IRS send your payment?

On Tuesday, the IRS said it has started making payments via direct deposit, with paper checks and EIP debit cards going out in the mail on Wednesday, Dec. 30. The IRS said it will continue to make payments through the middle of January. Afterward, you can claim any missing payment when you file your taxes in 2021.

If you want to get an idea for how much you may recieve, you can calculate your second stimulus check total now. Here’s which payment group you might be in. Here’s what we know about how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check, and here are more details about weekly unemployment insurance.

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A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why didn’t the bill include a $1,200 or $2,000 second stimulus check?

A second stimulus check has had wide bipartisan support ever since the CARES Act passed. Over the last several months, everyone from Trump and Biden to members of Congress, economists and everyday people have advocated for another direct payment.

Trump has previously called for “more money than they’re talking about” in stimulus checks, as large as $1,200 or $2,000 per person. Aides reportedly convinced him at the time that making such demands would jeopardize a stimulus bill, The Washington Post reported, and the White House offer was officially extended at $600 tops.

Although many favor a $1,200 direct payment in theory, a second smaller stimulus check has helped keep costs below the $1 trillion cutoff that Republican lawmakers have in the past said they’d support. 

Stimulus checks aren’t cheap. The IRS said this summer that it had spent $270 billion sending out 160 million checks, and on Dec. 15, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has been involved in crafting the bipartisan stimulus proposal, forecast a cost of $300 billion if the checks were once again included for $1,200 per person. Republicans reportedly bridled at the cost.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now, what you should do to speed up the delivery of a potential second check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.