If there’s no second check in the next stimulus bill, you could still benefit

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Several economic support programs will run out by year’s end without help from Congress.

James Martin/CNET

The Senate and the House of Representatives are officially back in session on Monday, starting the clock on a handful of working days left in 2020. The two main agenda items: avoid a government shutdown by Dec. 11, and to once again get the wheels in motion on another coronavirus relief bill. If nothing gets done, the final benefits safety net goes away.

With the goal of finding middle ground on more aid, a growing number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are pushing for Congress to pass a smaller bill than the one Democrats have backed since May. A scaled-down, short-term aid package, however, could skip over the hoped-for second economic stimulus check. After President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, his administration could then seek a larger, follow-up bill that could include a second payment.

“We need to do this now,” said Sen Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri, on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “We need to continue the funding for the vaccine, the delivery of the vaccine … Direct money to struggling families would be helpful, and some extension of unemployment.”

But a second stimulus check worth up to $1,200 per person might not make the cut. (And a payment could bring you less money than before.) Those arguing against a second check suggest another direct payment may not be necessary in light of a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine that signals an eventual return to work and the kind of spending that drives the economy. Very few people will get the vaccine as soon as it’s ready, however, and wider distribution in mid-2021 is still months away.

After being part of the debate for months, what does it mean if another stimulus check doesn’t come? We’ve looked at the other benefits a new stimulus package could bring you, even without $1,200 per qualified adult. This story is regularly updated with new information.

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Next stimulus checks: What to expect


A small bill could extend weekly federal unemployment checks

The CARES Act in March authorized an additional $600 per week in unemployment money for out-of-work individuals. When that program ran out in July, President Donald Trump signed an executive action that extended payments through the end of the year at $300 extra per week, until Dec. 31 or until the money for each state ran out. With the total number of unemployed workers claiming benefits as high as 20 million, the government reported this month, a renewal of the federal unemployment assistance could directly help millions of people pay for rent, food and other essentials.

Small businesses could get help paying worker wages

The Payroll Protection Program, also part of the CARES Act, was designed to help keep workers employed by providing forgivable loans to small businesses for the purpose of paying wages. That means people who work for small businesses should be more likely to keep their jobs because their employer can get extra money to help keep workers on the books. 

While recent studies suggest the payroll program was not as effective as it could have been — with many businesses using the loans on nonpayroll expenses and to build up savings, according to a University of Chicago study — both Republicans and Democrats have pushed for renewal of the program targeted at the hardest-hit small businesses.


Federal support for worker wages is set to run out as Democrats and Republicans continue to clash on stimulus.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Renter protections could return to halt evictions

One in five renters are not caught up on their rent during the pandemic, a Nov. 20 US Census study found, making a lapse in protections potentially catastrophic to American households. Up to 19 million people could lose their homes if eviction protections aren’t renewed. More Americans could declare personal bankruptcy.

The CARES Act included a 120-day moratorium on evicting renters who were late on rent. Trump renewed the moratorium until Dec. 31. With a Dec. 11 deadline to approve a new federal budget, lawmakers will have to act quickly to agree to a short-term fix before the new year.

Until then, here’s what we know about the state of negotiations on another economic rescue bill, what could be holding up an agreement and five benefits going away unless Congress acts before the end of the year.

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