The election results are in, but the future of a second stimulus check is still uncertain.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Joe Biden gave his victory speech Saturday night as president-elect of the United States. But Biden won’t step into the role of 46th US president until the Jan. 20 inauguration — 74 days away — which also means he won’t have direct influence over COVID-relief until then. However, the shift in administration and mood in Washington could have an effect on the path of negotiations for another stimulus bill before then, and whether or not it includes a second stimulus check

Before his speech, Biden already had a framework for a stimulus plan, which includes an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals and a boost in weekly unemployment benefits.

It’s unclear exactly how Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, or senatorial runoffs in Georgia — which could decide if Democrats or Republicans control the Senate — will affect the path of another stimulus check, but it’s almost guaranteed to have an impact on the on-again, off-again negotiations, and on whether more direct payments are included in the bill or cut out. 

Here are some possible scenarios for the current proposal, a new proposal and what might happen if there’s no resolution on a stimulus bill by the inauguration. (And here’s every remaining benefit that disappears if no bill is passed before 2021.)

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


The $1.9 trillion White House package could be off the table

The stimulus package that was under negotiation in the days before the Nov. 3 election is now called into question after Trump’s loss. The president said on Oct. 27 that he’d deliver “the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen” on the condition he won re-election and Republicans controlled the Senate and House of Representatives.

Read moreNot everyone would qualify for a new stimulus check. What we know

By Friday, the administration seemed to change its tune.

“Sen. McConnell and for that matter President Trump, and (Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin) and I and the others … we would like to negotiate a package,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said, The Chicago Tribune reported. “It would still be a targeted package to specific areas. We’re not interested in two or three trillion dollars.”

This package included a stimulus check for up to $1,200 and some proposed changes to qualifications that could have helped or hurt your chances to get more money in a second round of payments.

Senate could offer a new proposal, with or without a direct payment

The Republican-controlled Senate returns to Washington on Monday to complete its term before new  members are sworn in Jan. 3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week reversed course and called for a narrow package to pass by the end of 2020, after previously saying it should come in 2021.

Read moreNobody can take your stimulus check away, right? Not so fast

“We need another rescue package … I think we need to do it and I think we need to do it before the end of the year,” McConnell said Nov. 4, calling passage of a relief bill “job one.” 

While pundits think McConnell will seek to push through a targeted deal without a stimulus check, the Senate’s HEALS Act from July, which he sought to pass, included a $1,200 direct payment and additional money for families with child dependents.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, speaking for Democrats, rejected the idea of a smaller bill on Friday. “That isn’t anything that we should even be looking at,” she said.

A bill of some sort could pass before Dec. 31, 2020

Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate say they’re motivated to pass a bill before year’s end, but they have deeply divided visions for what that will look like. It’s also possible that at least some aid could squeak through before the end of the year as part of a Dec. 11 bill to keep the government from shutting down.

As Senate leader, McConnell decides when to bring legislation to a vote. His new statement may signal one less hurdle to pass a bill, but another stimulus check still isn’t guaranteed to be part of it.

Trump will need to sign any bill for it to become law.

Or it might wait until after Biden’s Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration

If a stimulus package with a stimulus check isn’t agreed on, or passed in both chambers and Trump were to veto, the new Congress and White House administration could try again in late January after Biden is sworn-in as president.

A senatorial run-off in Georgia could potentially give Democrats control over the Senate, in addition to the House, creating a scenario in which they might be able to push a larger stimulus package through. But if Republicans keep their majority in the Senate, any proposal would have to receive bipartisan agreement to have a chance to pass. Until that happens, there won’t be a second stimulus check.

Read more: Would you use your second check like these people?


Top US leaders want to send you another stimulus check.

Angela Lang/CNET

Some qualifications might change or stay the same, but…

Democratic and Republican negotiators both want to make changes to the eligibility requirements from the first stimulus check, but they have different ideas about who should and shouldn’t get a stimulus check.

The Democratic proposals, for example, support sending certain undocumented immigrants to the US who pay taxes the same $1,200 stimulus check afforded to US citizens at home and abroad, as well as some people living in US territories. They’d also either broaden the definition of a dependent to include college students and older adults, or else approve of $1,000 per child dependent instead of $500 apiece. There may also be changes to some child support situations.

Republican proposals originated the $1,000 allocation per child dependent.

It’s also possible a new bill could clarify if people who are imprisoned are eligible to receive a stimulus check. That issue is under current legal review.

New qualifications could get you a bigger or smaller payment

New qualifications might dictate a new total amount for each stimulus payment. We’ve made some calculations to show you how you might be affected. In addition to changes in a bill that would affect your next direct payment, there may be changes to your life circumstances since April that could alter the size of a second check, in either direction. For more details, this is how the IRS determines how much money your particular check would be.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s what to do if you haven’t received your first payment and how to calculate how much money a second check could bring you.

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