Trump won’t sign bill without $2,000 second stimulus check. Pelosi is game. What now?


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

Sarah Tew/CNET

When will President Donald Trump sign the $900 billion stimulus package, which would bring up to $600 per person in second stimulus checks, and extend $300 federal unemployment checks through March? The answer might be never.

On Tuesday evening, Trump called the COVID-19 relief package a “disgrace,” saying he would not support the bill if it doesn’t include a larger second stimulus check

“I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted shortly after, “Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks. At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!” 

In response, House Democrats plan to usher through a $2,000 bill for a second stimulus check as soon as Thursday, Dec. 24, tweeted KCBS reporter Doug Sovern. They would attempt to pass the bill using unanimous consent, which would pass the bill unless a representative objected. The use of unanimous consent would take advantage of most House representatives being absent from the floor for the December holidays.

Since spring, several Democrats have suggested a $2,000 stimulus check, including Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey and one-time presidential hopeful (and now New York mayoral hopeful) Andrew Yang. Some supporters of this figure have even suggested sending checks on a monthly rather than a one-time basis.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, it seemed that Trump was ready to sign the bipartisan stimulus bill, which a member of his administration worked on, “in the coming days,” the Associated Press and others have reported. 

For now, that leaves relief measures in limbo, including extending a ban on evictions for people who can’t pay rent, and extra money for jobseekers.

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gave next week as the target for sending payments via direct deposit to people who qualify for a second stimulus check to receive their payment, 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.) And the $300 unemployment checks are slated to restart as soon as Dec. 26.

Now what happens if Congress doesn’t amend the stimulus bill that passed by a clear majority in both chambers Monday night, and if Trump makes good on his threat by actively vetoing the stimulus package or declining to sign it (aka a pocket veto)? Would it mean the stimulus bill is dead, along with the $300 unemployment checks and $600 stimulus payments?

Not necessarily. Congress would still have the option to pass the bill despite a presidential veto, by way of a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives. 

Most US leaders seem to see the $900 billion stimulus bill as a stepping stone to a larger relief package in 2021, one that may include a third stimulus check and other provisions that Republicans and Democrats agreed to leave out this round in order to pass a critical deal. 

“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 would 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 the bill officially passes, 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, and here are more details about weekly unemployment insurance.


A vote on the new stimulus package could come soon.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why wasn’t a larger 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 at the time 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.