Second Stimulus Checks: What Are the Chances Congress Will Reach a Deal by End of the Year?

With Election Day now passed, attention is returning to ongoing discussions on Capitol Hill regarding an additional stimulus relief package. After the first package was passed in late March — and was followed by several other smaller packages — the American people have continued to hold out hope that more relief is coming, but what are the chances of another bill being passed during the current lame-duck session and before the end of the year?

According to numerous aides on both sides of the aisle, the chance of a bill arising and going through the necessary processes to be passed is currently slim to none, and Americans should not be holding their breath for additional aid before 2021. Although some lawmakers expressed hope that the lame-duck session would reinvigorate discussions, aides told CNN that after months of watching negotiations, "there are no signs that a deal is on the horizon." This is in part due to the fact that both Democrats and Republicans "are still awaiting direction from their leadership on how to proceed," and it remains unclear just when negotiations will resume.

Discussions between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently collapsed again and is believed that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is poised to now take the lead — something that brings with it its own concerns given that McConnell is still contending with a conference that is against a stimulus bill that costs much more than $1 trillion.

Some aides expressed doubt that members of Congress will have time to focus on a stimulus deal with the Dec. 11 deadline to keep the government funded. Efforts to come up with a funding bill will likely take up much of the time of appropriators. Although some lawmakers seemed to suggest that they could roll together a stimulus with a spending bill, the many differences in viewpoint that remain regarding the scope and specifics of a stimulus bill make that unlikely.

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Although aides are casting doubt on a bill materializing before the end of the year, not all hope is lost. Several aides believe that President-elect Joe Biden will jump into the negotiations as a way to begin building a coalition with the GOP-controlled Senate. Speaking to ABC, Sen. Chris Coons said that Biden "is going to be able to pull together leaders in Congress to deliver the relief that we need and deserve and one way that President Trump can show some graciousness in the next 73 days during the transition is to publicly support a significant pandemic relief bill."

At this time, as the aides noted, there seem to be too many variables to say for certain whether a bill will be passed sooner rather than later. Both Pelosi and McConnell have expressed a desire to pass a bill before the end of 2020.