Congress approves stimulus package with $600 second check, $300 weekly unemployment money


The stimulus package contains funding intended to carry the US through the next few months, including a smaller second stimulus check

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The new stimulus package worth $900 billion in COVID-19 relief aid passed both chambers of Congress on Monday, bringing the bill one step away from becoming law. All that’s left is President Donald Trump’s signature. The final contents of the stimulus bill arrived only hours before the vote, officially committing to a second stimulus check of up to $600 per qualified adult and an additional $600 per dependent. It also renews $300 in federal weekly unemployment insurance for 11 weeks. 

A major victory for proponents of the bipartisan package, the new stimulus bill includes a second stimulus check and unemployment checks intended to bring direct cash flow to tens of millions of Americans. (You can calculate your second stimulus check total now. Here’s how soon the IRS can send a second check and which payment group you might be in.)

“We advance this bill today as a first step,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Monday. “We have new hope, which springs from the vaccine and from the commitment President-elect [Joe] Biden has to following science.  We are ready for the next step.”

The coronavirus relief package is set to at least partially renew critical expiring federal benefits at a time when the nation is seeing surging infections, hospitalizations and “horrific” deaths as a result of COVID-19. Without federal action, tens of millions of unemployed Americans would be left without any income and millions of households would face eviction

Along with the text of the bill, more details emerged about the second stimulus check, including new limits to how many people will be qualified to receive it. Although the formula remains the same for deciding the total sum a household could get, the numbers work out to exclude more families from another round of stimulus check money.

A broader economic rescue bill, like the $2.2 trillion CARES Act from March, is more likely to return to the table in early 2021, top US leaders have implied. It’s too soon to tell if that sweeping package would include a third stimulus check for $600 or $1,200.

Read moreWant a third stimulus bill? America’s next Congress could hold the key

How quickly could stimulus package aid go out?

Aid would likely begin to go out within a week or two, with certain funding programs possibly receiving financial help before the end of 2020.

Here’s what we know about how quickly we think the IRS could send a second stimulus check. These are the details for weekly unemployment insurance.


A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why wasn’t a $1,200 second stimulus check part of the bill?

A second stimulus check has had wide bipartisan support ever since the CARES Act passed. Over the last several months, everyone from President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden to members of Congress, economists and everyday people has advocated for another direct payment.

Last week, Trump called for “more money than they’re talking about” in stimulus checks, as large as $1,200 or $2,000 per person. Aides reportedly convinced him that making such demands would jeopardize a stimulus bill, The Washington Post reported.

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Although many favor a $1,200 direct payment in theory, a second smaller stimulus check has helped keep costs below the $1 trillion cutoff that Republican lawmakers have in the past said they’d support. 

Stimulus checks aren’t cheap. The IRS said this summer that it had spent $270 billion sending out 160 million checks, and on Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney, a Republican who has been involved in crafting the bipartisan stimulus proposal, forecast a cost of $300 billion if the checks were once again included for $1,200 per person. Republicans reportedly bridled at the cost.

A variety of factors could have contributed to a second stimulus check making its way into the final bill at all, from popular opinion and presidential preference to complicated negotiations that trimmed $160 billion from elsewhere, enough for a smaller stimulus check than before. 

Could there be a larger stimulus bill in 2021?

Biden, McConnell and others have repeatedly described this December legislation as emergency relief instead of a sweeping economic stimulus package, and have committed to another stimulus bill in 2021.

“It’s a down payment,” Biden said Dec. 16. “An important down payment on what’s going to have to be done at the end of January and into February. But it’s very important to get done.”

Here’s everything we know right now about the chances of a third stimulus check in 2021.

For more information about stimulus checks, here’s how soon you might get your second stimulus check now, what you should do to speed up the delivery of a potential second check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.