Why a Stimulus Check May Have to Wait Until A New President Takes Office

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It may be a long time before you get any more coronavirus money in your pocket.

Since the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in late March, lawmakers have been trying to reach a compromise on another COVID-19 relief bill.

Sadly, while both sides agreed that Americans need another stimulus check and the unemployed need more help, Republicans and Democrats were not able to find consensus to pass legislation. This was a disappointment, as key negotiators on both the left and right had hoped another bill would be passed before election day.

Now, however, election day has come and gone, no stimulus bill has yet been passed, and it seems unlikely that a compromise can be found before January. This means if you're hoping for more stimulus money, you'll probably need to explore other sources of aid. You need a fallback in case lawmakers are unable to act to deliver more money into your bank account in the coming months.

Leaders from both parties expect to wait

One of the biggest obstacles to signing another stimulus check into law before inauguration day is that key party leaders on both the left and right seem to have accepted the wait.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her weekly press conference at the end of October that she wanted more COVID-19 relief than the Republicans would authorize. The Republican's proposed relief bills fall far short of the HEROES Act the House passed. As such, she prefers to wait until former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidency and takes office so they can take a different path. This statement was, of course, made prior to the election when the polls suggested a strong possibility that Democrats would control all three branches of government.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on the other hand, also indicated prior to the election that he expects Congress to move forward with stimulus relief at the start of 2021. This would likely be after the next president is sworn in. McConnell said that those on the right would prefer more targeted relief on a smaller scale than Democrats have pushed for. However, in some recent post-election statements, he seems to have walked back on this position. He's now saying that it could be possible to pass a stimulus bill sooner rather than later.

Of course, as control of Congress looks set to remain divided, conflict over what should be in the next stimulus bill is likely to persist. There's a chance a deal will not be reached quickly, even after inauguration day.

Other issues could also interfere with another stimulus check

Other possible obstacles to passing more stimulus prior to inauguration day go beyond the ongoing disagreements about how much relief to give.

There is a very real possibility that President Donald Trump could engage in legal proceedings to challenge the results of the 2020 election in certain states. This would only serve to increase partisan rancor in Washington. And the Senate may be consumed with confirming judges during the lame duck session, rather than fulfilling other legislative priorities.

Of course, if leaders from both sides come to grips with the fact that control of the government will likely remain divided for at least the next two years, it might prompt lawmakers to act. There's a chance they might decide it's better to compromise sooner rather than later. Since you can't bank on this outcome, though, it's best to start looking for other sources of relief if you were counting on stimulus funds to help you make ends meet.

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