There’s an inkling that the stimulus bill could still be salvaged.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It’s been almost a month since talks collapsed over the next economic stimulus package and it seems like an agreement is farther away than before. Despite lining up on a second stimulus check, partisan heels remain firmly dug into the ground on the specifics of the next package and when the bill will pass. 

Press conferences might be tense, but both sides still want to push coronavirus relief through before the Nov. 3 presidential election. Read below for five scenarios we could see happen with the stimulus package in the coming days. 

A relief bill could pass

Congressional negotiators could come to an agreement in the coming weeks to pass a larger rescue bill. Again, a single bill’s passage hinges on bipartisan agreement on the total cost of the stimulus package. President Donald Trump would have to sign the bill into law after it passes the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Formal talks have yet to restart and the Senate is in recess until Sept 8. The House of Representatives has continued to meet in short Pro Forma sessions since passing the USPS bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have spoken on the phone

Here’s a tentative chart for when we could see a relief bill passed: 

When could the stimulus bill pass?

House votes Senate votes President signs
Possible timeline if legislation passes in September Sept. 9 Sept. 10 Sept. 11
Sept. 14 Sept. 15 Sept. 16
Sept. 16 Sept. 17 Sept. 18
Sept. 21 Sept. 22 Sept. 23

Smaller bills could pass

We might also see smaller pieces of legislation be proposed. The House presented one of the first of these piecemeal bills seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election were many will likely be voting by mail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter that the Republican-led Senate “will not pass stand-alone legislation for the Postal Service.”

In addition, the Senate Republicans have planned to introduce a “skinny” coronavirus stimulus package called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (PDF). The draft of this proposed package does not include funding for a second round of stimulus checks, however. But the bill could restart negotiations on other, smaller stimulus relief bills that could include a slice of other programs.

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Trump could explore more executive orders

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, President Donald Trump took unilateral action by signing one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. Meadows said it’s possible that more executive actions are coming.

Trump’s COVID-19 relief executive actions range from working to slow evictions, extend unemployment benefits and pausing payroll taxes through the end of the year.


The end of all talks would be devastating to millions of Americans.

Sarah Tew/CNET

No action is taken until after the election

If talks on the top areas of stimulus funding don’t resume until after the results of the Nov. 3 election, it could be because leaders want to see what happens next. 

With 470 seats in the US Congress — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats — up for election in November, any change in majority to the House or Senate, and to the presidency itself, could shift the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

The government’s coronavirus response is expected to play heavily into the campaign at all levels. If a deal isn’t reached soon, there’s little doubt that the topic of a relief package could come up during town halls or debates held in the coming weeks. 


Democrats and Republicans have been disagreeing on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

What happens if no action is taken

About one million Americans have filed new jobless claims for 23 weeks straight and a housing crisis looming on the horizon. If no action is taken on a relief package, individual bills or executive orders, it could potentially cause the economy to plunge into a deeper recession that economists say is beginning to mirror the Great Recession of the late 2000s

For more information, we’ve looked at how soon you might get your second stimulus check and compared the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus proposals.

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