Who would make the cut for a second stimulus check?

Sarah Tew/CNET

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Washington has been dropping plenty of hints about the timing of a second stimulus check. Senate Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Roy Blunt all say we’ll know more this month. July is 31 days long, however, and the Senate is on its Fourth of July recess for much of the month. 

But we can pick out a narrow time frame when Congress could give a new stimulus check the green light, based on the Senate’s calendar, which includes two lengthy summer recesses when senators will be in their home states. We also worked out a possible time when the IRS might be able to send the first batch of new checks, if they’re approved. Read on for what we know.

This story updates frequently with new information. If you’re still waiting on the first round, you can track the status of your stimulus check, see some possible reasons why you don’t have a check yet and learn how to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS.


Congress is expected to start work soon on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.

Angela Lang/CNET

Stimulus check timeline: These dates matter

Let’s start with the firmest promise we’ve heard about the stimulus check decision so far, which came from McConnell in a June 30 briefing. 

“We’re going to stay on the schedule that I announced earlier in the year. We will not be here in August,” McConnell said. He’s also warned that the next relief package will also be the last.

If the Senate sticks to that goal — to make a decision on another stimulus package before August — then we can tease out the basic timeframe Congress has to work with if another rescue bill containing checks is to get approved.

July 3 to July 17: The Senate takes a planned recess from Friday, July 3, through Friday, July 17, returning to work on Monday, July 20.

According to Blunt, members of the Senate will use the July break to collect the information they need for a second coronavirus package and then return ready to work. “I think the timing is going to be just about right for us to know what we need to know for a package that moves us into August, September and October,” Blunt said Tuesday.

July 20 to Aug. 7: The Senate will be in session for three work weeks, until Friday, Aug. 7. That gives the Senate 15 work days (not including weekends) to debate a bill before its next summer recess.

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Aug. 10 to Sept. 7: The Senate will be on its August recess, which lasts through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 7). There are 32 days from the last date of the Senate session (Aug. 7) until the first day of the following session (Sept. 8). The Senate won’t work through the August break, McConnell said Tuesday.

If the Senate does take up a second stimulus package in July, a new bill authorizing the checks would need to pass both chambers on or before Friday, Aug. 7, to get through prior to the Senate’s August break.

Sept. 8 to Sept. 25: The Senate is back in session. If Congress doesn’t complete the stimulus package by the start of the August break, it would need to resume in September.

When could the IRS send a second stimulus payment?

If the House and Senate do give a second round of stimulus checks the green light, it’s not out of the question that the checks could start to be sent out by the IRS in August. 

cash funds running out of money change dollars wallet empty

It’s time to hash out the numbers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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 only, 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 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 final date I could receive a second stimulus check?


A second stimulus bill could be the last for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Angela Lang/CNET

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 payments. (The total US population is nearly 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.)

At the beginning of June, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated (PDF) as many as 35 million Americans could still be owed a payment. The IRS will continue to disburse the final batches through the end of the year. If there are fewer people receiving a second stimulus check, however, it’s possible that it won’t take as long to send a second round of checks.

If you didn’t get your money yet, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay. If you’re worried you were supposed to receive your check and didn’t, here’s what you can do

Do we still need a second stimulus check? The unemployment debate heats up

Is a second stimulus check necessary? That question is at the heart of this debate. 

“The path forward for the economy remains extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus,” said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell during House testimony on Tuesday. “The path forward will also depend on policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief and to support the recovery for as long as needed.”

Weekly jobless claims continue to show a US economy struggling to find its footing. For the week ending June 27, 1.42 million workers filed first-time jobless claims, making 15 straight weeks new claims were over 1 million, the Labor Department reported (PDF). Initial claims were down slightly from the 1.48 million of the week before.

A June study (PDF) by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University advanced that without the stimulus money, America’s poverty level could have spiked from 12.5% before the pandemic to 16.3% today. 

The center predicted, “If high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will be needed” to keep poverty from soaring during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The study also notes the categories of people who aren’t eligible to receive the funds authorized by the CARES Act and that some eligible families are facing roadblocks receiving their benefits. The expanded unemployment benefits keeping some afloat are set to expire at the end of July.


Even with some businesses starting to open, the US has a staggeringly high unemployment rate.

Angela Lang/CNET

What will it take to get a second stimulus check and what happens now?

The passage of a second round of IRS payments appears to depend on two things: how badly the economy is faring and if lawmakers believe a direct payment to millions of people is the best way to respond to the current recession

For now, we wait till the Senate returns from its July recess to take up the next stimulus package. 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.

We’ll continue to update this story with new information as it arises. While the future of a second stimulus bill remains undecided, we’ll share available resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurance, what you can do if you’ve lost your job, what to know about evictions and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.



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