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What’s going on with stimulus negotiations? 5 things that could happen now – CNET


The stimulus bill could still be salvaged — we just have to wait and see.

Angela Lang/CNET

With the Senate returning to work this week and the House on Sept. 14, both parties will soon be back in Washington to try to reach agreement on the next economic stimulus package. While White House and Democratic negotiators have signed off on a second stimulus check, the other details of the rescue package remain undecided.

Washington lawmakers may take several paths to reach an agreement, including hammering out the larger package that the two sides have been discussing since the start of August, passing a new “skinny” bill that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Senate Republicans may present this week or, if talks remain stalled, potentially issuing a new collection of executive actions from the White House.

With the presidential election about two months away, both sides are under increasing pressure to produce more aid for Americans. Read below for five scenarios we could see happen with the stimulus package in the coming days. 

A relief bill could pass

Congressional negotiators could come to an agreement in the coming weeks to pass a larger rescue bill. Again, a single bill’s passage hinges on bipartisan agreement on the total cost of the stimulus package. President Donald Trump would have to sign the bill into law after it passes the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Formal talks have yet to restart, but the Senate returns from recess this week and the House of Representatives, return next week, having passed the USPS bill since it went on break. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have spoken on the phone

Here’s a tentative chart for when we could see a relief bill passed: 

When could the stimulus bill pass?

Senate votes House votes President signs
Possible timeline if legislation passes in September Sept. 14 Sept. 15 Sept. 16
Sept. 15 Sept. 17 Sept. 18
Sept. 21 Sept. 22 Sept. 23
Sept. 25 Sept. 28 Sept. 29

Smaller bills could pass

We might also see smaller pieces of legislation be proposed. The House presented one of the first of these piecemeal bills seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election were many will likely be voting by mail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter that the Republican-led Senate “will not pass stand-alone legislation for the Postal Service.”

In addition, the Senate Republicans may introduce a “skinny” coronavirus stimulus package this week called the Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act (PDF). The draft of this proposed package does not include funding for a second round of stimulus checks, however. But the bill could restart negotiations on other, smaller stimulus relief bills that could include a slice of other programs.

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Executive orders could arise instead of or in addition to a bill

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, President Donald Trump took unilateral action by signing one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. It’s possible more executive actions are coming.

Trump’s current COVID-19 relief executive actions range from slowing evictions to extending unemployment benefits and pausing payroll taxes through the end of the year.

The administration is considering another executive action to release $300 billion in stimulus aid in an unused account for Americans.


The end of all talks would be devastating to millions of Americans.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Relief could go on hold until after the election

If talks on the top areas of stimulus funding don’t resume until after the results of the Nov. 3 election, it could be because leaders want to see what happens next. 

With 470 seats in the US Congress — 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats — up for election in November, any change in majority to the House or Senate, and to the presidency itself, could shift the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

The government’s coronavirus response is expected to play heavily into the campaign at all levels. If a deal isn’t reached soon, there’s little doubt that the topic of a relief package could come up during town halls or debates held in the coming weeks. 


Democrats and Republicans have been disagreeing on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

If no additional action is taken

Unemployment remains at staggering levels and a housing crisis looming on the horizon. If no action is taken on a relief package, individual bills or executive orders, it could potentially cause the economy to plunge into a deeper recession that economists say is beginning to mirror the Great Recession of the late 2000s

For more information, we’ve looked at how soon you might get your second stimulus check and compared the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus proposals.

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