Congress has a handful of days to reach a deal before breaking for the election.

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After nearly two months of negotiators talking around each other, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that they’ll return to the bargaining table to work on another rescue package which could deliver a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans, among other benefits. 

“I’ve probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days … and we’ve agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act,” Mnuchin said Thursday.

In tandem with the rekindled talks, House Democrats are reportedly working on new legislation with aid of around $2.4 trillion, roughly $1 trillion less than the Heroes Act proposed in May. The new bill would address enhanced unemployment insurance, direct payments to qualified Americans, the Paycheck Protection Program for small-business loan funding, and airline aid.  

The new House bill could be ready for a vote by Oct. 2, The Hill reported.

The two sides have just a handful of weeks to work out a new bill if they want it to pass ahead of the Nov. 3 election. In light of this new information, we’ve pulled some dates and identified possible scenarios that could play out for the next stimulus package. Here are the most important things to know about stimulus checks. This story updates often.

With talks restarting, a new package could still squeak by before Nov. 3

The clock is running on both sides of the aisle to agree on another stimulus package before election day. The last day a new bill could pass is still up in the air, since the schedules to break after this current session can be extended by the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. 

Possible timelines for when a stimulus bill could pass

Senate votes House votes President signs
Oct. 2 Oct. 3 Oct. 4
Oct. 9 Oct. 13 (Oct. 12 is Columbus Day) Oct. 14
Oct. 16 Oct. 19 Oct. 20
Oct. 23 Oct. 26 Oct. 27

If nothing changes, Oct. 9 — the final day of the Senate session — is the last time a bill has to clear the upper chamber, but it still isn’t the final day a bill could pass. The House, for example, plans to postpone the start of its next break, originally scheduled for Oct. 2, until a deal is reached. If the bill passes the Senate on or by Oct. 9, the House could pass it after that date. And if negotiators close in on a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could also compel the Senate to stay in session longer or come back early to vote on a proposal. 

Still, it’s less likely a bill could pass days before the election as the presidential candidates — President Donald Trump, who must sign the bill into law, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden — complete their campaigns.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


Congress could choose to focus on small, standalone bills

If the Senate rejects the House’s new smaller bill, some in Washington say the way to break the stalemate is to pass a series of even narrower bills that target specific areas — such as the entertainment and airline industries — but that’s less likely to happen before the election.

The Senate made one attempt with its Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, but that proposal failed in the Senate. The House also presented a piecemeal bill seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election in which many Americans, wary of in-person voting during a pandemic, will likely be voting by mail

The president could still take additional executive action

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, Trump signed one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. It’s possible more executive actions would be forthcoming if this final attempt at negotiations fails before the election, though there’s been no development after Trump first suggested his administration might consider another executive action to bypass Congress.

Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions address slowing evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.

 cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty

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

Sarah Tew/CNET

Negotiators could push out the stimulus package if talks falter

With the Nov. 3 election weeks away, the atmosphere in Washington may be too politically charged to pass more economic relief bills, and leaders may want to see what happens in the period after the election on Nov.e 3 and before the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021.

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


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is already playing heavily in the campaign. If a deal isn’t reached soon, the topic of a relief package is likely to come up during town halls and debates between Trump and Biden in the coming weeks. 

If talks fail again, lawmakers could take no action

We think this outcome is less likely, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Unemployment remains at staggeringly high levels and a housing crisis looms 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, as economists say the damage already done is beginning to mirror the Great Recession of the late 2000s

For more information, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.

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