As Washington settles down after the election and with the COVID-19 pandemic looking worse than ever across the U.S., government officials are talking about pumping more relief into the economy quickly.
“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” lame-duck President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday. “Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”
The two top Democrats in Congress are pushing for new aid. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (pictured) have renewed their call for a more than $2 trillion package, including another batch of those $1,200 “stimulus checks” for most Americans.
Negotiators couldn’t come to an agreement before the election, but things may be different this time. So, when might you get more cash from the IRS? Here’s the latest on the possible timing.
Why is this taking so long?
It’s been about seven months since the tax agency started sending out the initial round of stimulus checks, and the deadline to get your money — if you haven’t already — is just days away.
So far, Republicans and Democrats have disagreed on a number of issues regarding the next aid package, and have been deeply divided over its size and scope.
Speaker Pelosi has been leading the charge for a $2.2 trillion House bill that passed in early October. It calls for giving Americans another $1,200 payment, plus an additional $500 per dependent.
Earlier, the White House was willing to go as far as about $1.9 trillion, and its plan included more stimulus checks. Meanwhile, the Republicans controlling the Senate previously offered a roughly $500 billion “skinny” bill, with no second round of payments. That proposal fizzled.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in Congress, has said he wants a new aid bill wrapped up before the end of the year. But he’s still backing a stripped-down measure that would not give you another stimulus check.
What’s the possible timing now?
A survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that close to 60% of Americans used their first stimulus checks to pay for basic expenses like groceries and utilities.
Some also invested the cash or found other, unspecified purposes for the money. Those may have included buying affordable life insurance; sales of life insurance policies have surged this year amid the pandemic.
Many people have been hoping for months that they’d get a second payment. In a Franklin Templeton-Gallup study released last week, Americans indicated they’d spend more this holiday season if they received another $1,200 from Uncle Sam.
If a breakthrough can come quickly this month, and it includes new direct payments, money could start flowing to Americans as early as December. The earlier checks started going out only about two and a half weeks after the president signed legislation in late March.
But if the negotiations go nowhere again, a deal might have to wait for the new Congress and new administration in January — meaning no stimulus checks before February. President-elect Joe Biden supports a second round of direct payments to Americans.
What to do while you wait
If you can’t wait until December or later to maybe see more government money in your bank account, here are some ideas for how you can find an extra $1,200 on your own.
Get a grip on your debt. If you’ve been surviving on your credit cards during the pandemic, you’re likely racking up a mountain of interest. You may be able to reduce the amount you’re losing — and become debt-free sooner — by rolling your current balances into a single debt consolidation loan at a lower interest rate.
Hit the brakes on your spending. Get rid of any subscription services you don’t use. Order in less and prepare more meals at home. And download a free browser extension that will ensure you get the best price available whenever you shop online.
Cut down your insurance costs. Americans have been driving a lot less this year, and as a result, many car insurance companies have lowered their rates. If your insurer won’t cut you a break, it’s time to start shopping around for a better option. You might also be able to save on your homeowners insurance by comparing quotes from multiple companies.
Refinance your mortgage. Mortgage rates are lower than ever right now, and refinancing your current loan could save you a bundle. According to the data firm Black Knight, 18.5 million American homeowners could bring down their payments by an average $304 per month with a refi.