It's been more than six months since the CARES Act provided Americans with a stimulus payment to help them get through the coronavirus crisis. Millions of people have been waiting for a second one, but while lawmakers have been negotiating over a relief bill, there's been little progress toward more help for the public.
This doesn't mean you should give up on the idea of getting more money. In fact, while there are two big reasons it's unlikely you'll see another check anytime soon, there are also three reasons to believe another stimulus payment is within reach.
3 reasons you may see a second stimulus check
Three of the biggest reasons you could see more financial relief from Washington are the following:
- COVID-19 cases are spiking: In many parts of the country, there has been a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases as lockdown restrictions loosened. And experts are concerned things could only get worse as the weather gets cooler. Governors have largely resisted imposing strict stay-at-home orders again, but this position may prove untenable, especially after a spate of COVID-19 cases in the upper echelons of the U.S. government have demonstrated how quickly the virus can spread. If lawmakers grow seriously concerned that a large second wave will once again impact Americans' livelihood, they may be moved to act to avert a massive economic crisis.
- Unemployment is still high: The unemployment rate has been dropping slightly in recent months, and was down to 7.9% after employers added 661,000 jobs in September. While this is an improvement from record high unemployment during the height of the pandemic, it's still not good. The president has provided for expanded unemployment benefits through an executive order, but this is a short-term patch. The unemployed will need more help, and any bill that passes to provide it will almost assuredly include another stimulus check.
- There's a push for more funds: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have indicated they want to pass another coronavirus relief bill, and soon. With growing pressure from moderates and broad consensus on the fact another stimulus check is needed, party leaders may finally feel forced to reach a consensus.
2 reasons another stimulus check isn't very likely
Unfortunately, while there's reason for optimism about more stimulus money, there are also two big obstacles in the way of a second check -- and they may simply be too big to overcome:
- There are still huge points of disagreement: Lawmakers have moved closer with recent stimulus proposals, with the White House offering to pass a relief bill carrying a price tag of $1.6 trillion and the Democrats indicating they'd sign on to legislation costing $2.2 trillion. Previously, most Republicans wanted to cap the cost at $1 trillion while Democrats have been looking to spend at least $2.4 trillion. But even with these slight moves toward compromise, lawmakers are still billions of dollars apart.
- Time is running out: The election is just weeks away, and there's very little time for lawmakers to act before it. Most of them are home campaigning. In-person negotiations are almost certainly going to be shut down due to recent COVID-19 cases among top lawmakers, which will slow the process even more. And the Senate will largely be focused on determining if Amy Coney Barrett should be confirmed for the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
If a stimulus bill is not passed before Election Day, it's possible lawmakers could act after Nov. 3. But much depends on whether the presidency changes hands and whether control of the House and Senate remains divided. And that's a long time to wait if you are struggling financially.
Make sure you bulk up your emergency fund. You'll also want to confirm you have a sound strategy for investing in a recession, and that your assets are allocated appropriately given your risk tolerance if there's another stock market crash. Without help from Washington, it's up to you to make sure you're ready for economic turbulence that could come with a coronavirus resurgence.