More stimulus and unemployment checks are ready. When will Trump sign the package?


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

After a whirlwind day of finalizing the very last details of a $900 billion stimulus package, the House of Representatives and Senate voted late into the night Monday to approve the bill that will bring up to $600 per person in a second stimulus check, and extend $300 federal unemployment checks through March. All that’s left is for President Donald Trump’s signature to make it so. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, it isn’t clear when Trump will sign, apart from “in the coming days,” the Associated Press and others have reported. Until he does, the COVID-19 relief measures remain in limbo, with agencies unable to officially communicate information about how and when recipients and institutions can expect to receive their stimulus benefits.

For example, on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin targeted next week for people who qualify for a second stimulus check to receive their payment through direct deposit, intended to bring direct cash flow to tens of millions of Americans. (You can calculate your second stimulus check total now. Here’s which payment group you might be in.)

There’s a self-imposed Jan. 15, 2021 cutoff for the IRS to send this second batch of stimulus checks, which means once again the clock is ticking for the agency to gather its data and act. That means, too, there’s potentially less time for people who don’t have direct deposit information on file with the IRS to set up an account. (You may also get a second stimulus payment in a paper check or an EIP card.) 

If Trump actively vetoes the stimulus package or declines to sign it (aka a “pocket veto,”) Congress would have the option to pass the bill anyway with a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. 

The new stimulus bill is a victory for bipartisan proponents, after nine months of discord on the scope and size of the bill. It’s a compromise package in every way, with less money in a second stimulus check and unemployment checks than Democrats would like and without certain provisions, like a liability shield from coronavirus-related lawsuits that Republicans wanted.

Most US leaders seem to understand the $900 billion stimulus bill as a stepping stone to a larger relief package in 2021, on that may include a third stimulus check

“This bill is just the first step, a down payment, in addressing the crisis — crises, more than one — that we’re in,” President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday, emphasizing that he would like to see a third stimulus check.

The coronavirus relief package will 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

This story is updated often with new information.

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

How soon could stimulus benefits go out?

Aid would likely begin to go out within a week or two after Trump signs the bill, 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 deal?

A second stimulus check has had wide bipartisan support ever since the CARES Act passed. Over the last several months, everyone from Trump and Biden to members of Congress, economists and everyday people have 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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Second stimulus checks: Everything you need to know


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. 

What do we know about a larger stimulus bill in 2021?

Biden, Senate Majority Leader Mitch 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.

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.