After a week spent attacking the $600 second stimulus check, President Donald Trump signed a $2.3 trillion bill Sunday night that combines $900 billion in stimulus money with funding for the government — a day before the deadline that would shut down the government. In addition to approving a second stimulus check, the bipartisan COVID-19 relief aid will renew programs both Democrats and Republicans agree are critical, including $300 federal unemployment benefits, money to help businesses pay employees, a monthlong extension of a federal eviction ban and funding to help distribute the coronavirus vaccine.
“The compromise bill is not perfect, but it will do an enormous amount of good for struggling Kentuckians and Americans across the country who need help now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted minutes after Trump signed the bill.
It isn’t clear why Trump changed his mind after days of lambasting the “measly” size of the $600 maximum payment, and advancing his agenda to raise the second stimulus check to up to $2,000 instead. Throughout the weekend, US leaders from President-elect Joe Biden to Sens. Pat Toomey and Bernie Sanders criticized Trump’s delay in signing the bill. Trump had planned to sign the package Dec. 24 at 7.p.m. ET, CNN reported Sunday, before the president allegedly changed his mind.
“I simply want to get our great people $2000 [sic], rather than the measly $600 that is now in the bill. Also, stop the billions of dollars in ‘pork,'” Trump tweeted Saturday morning, referring to elements of the government funding portion of the bill that members of his party agreed to, and which have echoed Trump’s own budget requests.
Biden has referred to the stimulus portion of the joint package as a “first step and down payment,” forecasting a larger bill after he’s sworn into office — including a third stimulus check.
House will vote Monday on a $2,000 second stimulus check bill
The House of Representatives will vote Monday on a bill (PDF) to authorize the second stimulus check Trump is asking for, for up to $2,000 per qualified adult. It isn’t clear if the legislation will pass the Senate. It all depends on whether Trump will continue to hold sway with Senate Republicans in his final 24 days before Biden is sworn in as president, or whether a $2,000 check — which could greatly increase the size of the COVID-19 relief allocation — will divide the party.
“If the president is serious about the $2,000 direct payments, he must call on House Republicans to end their obstruction,” Pelosi said Dec. 24. “On Monday, I will bring the House back to session where we will hold a recorded vote on our stand-alone bill to increase economic impact payments to $2,000. … Hopefully by then the president will have already signed the bipartisan and bicameral legislation to keep the government open and to deliver coronavirus relief.”
Democrats have long advocated for a larger second stimulus check as part of a larger aid package overall. Trump distanced himself from negotiations, and his administration’s own negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, offered the $600 ceiling for the second stimulus check totals.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers passed the two-in-one omnibus package by overwhelming margins on Dec. 21, after months of painful negotiations.
While we closely follow the situation, read on for more information about the $2,000 stimulus check amount (the figure was advanced by a number of Democrats in mid-2020), the scenarios that could play out next and what we know about a third stimulus check for 2021. This story is updated often with new information.