The Senate is back in session. Congressional leaders are meeting with White House advisers. At long last, the benefits of a second stimulus check are under discussion. While Republicans and Democrats are each pushing their own priorities for the bill, the clock is ticking for a decision on the whole bundle — including who would be eligible for a second stimulus payment — before the self-imposed deadline.
“We can’t go home without [new legislation],” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on July 16, referring to the planned August recess. “More people have died. More people have gone on unemployment. And more people have been infected.” The Heroes Act passed by the House of Representatives on May 15 has not been taken up by the Senate, which appears to be working on its own bill.
But what is this deadline and what happens if another stimulus check doesn’t get approved before then? And if new legislation is passed, when’s the soonest you might expect to see a second IRS payment? We consulted the Senate’s calendar and used the first stimulus checks from the CARES Act as a model to formulate a possible timeline.
When’s the stimulus check ‘deadline’? Three weeks away
The Senate now has 15 working days until Aug. 7 to build, debate, negotiate and pass another stimulus package before the last day of the current session.
“We will be having bipartisan conversations about supplemental relief legislation and hope Congress will pass an additional package by the end of this month,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in prepared remarks before a House committee on July 17.
What happens if the Senate misses its cutoff?
Whether or not the Senate passes a new rescue package before its planned August recess, the Senate will not work past Aug. 7, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said June 30.
Why? Because the Senate’s August recess runs from Aug. 10 through Sept. 7 (Labor Day), which means there are 32 days from the last date of the Senate session (Aug. 7) until the first day of the following session (Sept. 8). If there’s no bill passed by Aug. 7, it won’t get picked up again until then. The September session runs through Sept. 25.
SENATE TIMELINE FOR MAKING A STIMULUS CHECK DECISION
|July 20 – Aug. 7||In session. The Senate is not expected to work past Aug. 7.|
|Aug. 10 – Sept. 7||August recess.|
|Sept. 8 – Sept. 25||In session. If the Senate doesn’t pass a bill by Aug. 7, this is the next period it will have to work on a stimulus package.|
|Sept. 28 – 29||September recess.|
|Sept. 30 – Oct. 9||In session. If the Senate still hasn’t passed a bill, this is its last chance before the general election on Nov. 3.|
When could the IRS send a second stimulus payment?
It’s still possible for the IRS to start sending checks in August if the second round of stimulus checks gets the green light by the end of July.
For reference, the president signed the CARES Act into law on March 27 and the first stimulus payments went out less than three weeks later, on April 15.
For the purpose of speculation, let’s say that a new stimulus act becomes law on Friday, Aug. 7. Following the CARES Act timeline, the first checks could go out by Aug. 26.
It’s plausible, however, that the IRS could move even faster to send out the first wave of stimulus checks, since it already has the mechanism in place from the first batch, including a tool for people to sign up for a direct deposit and track their payments.
Factors like how many people would qualify for a payment the second time around could play a role in slowing down or speeding up this timeline.
What’s the last date I could receive a second stimulus check?
While we don’t know anything official — and won’t until another rescue package is official — we can draw on the experience of the first stimulus checks as a potential blueprint.
The IRS will have sent about 200 million checks by the time it’s done distributing the first raft of payments. (The total US population is nearly 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.)
The majority of those were sent by the beginning of June, though the IRS said it will continue to disburse the final batches through the end of the year. If there are fewer people receiving a second stimulus check, it’s possible that it won’t take as long to send a second round of checks.
What will it take to get a second stimulus check?
For now, wait. To receive a second check, the proposed rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect.
After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could still be weeks more before you receive a payment.
If you’re still waiting on the first round of coronavirus payments, you can track the status of your stimulus check, learn how to report your no-show check to the IRS, and find possible reasons why your stimulus check still hasn’t arrived.
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