Second Stimulus: How Much Time Does Congress Have to Pass Relief Bill?

Congress has a short window to pass another coronavirus stimulus package that could include a second Economic Impact Payment. The Senate begins a two-week vacation on July 4 and after they come back, there are only two weeks before the August recess kicks off on Aug. 8. By the time they return, it will be mid-September, just two months before the elections in November and there could be other matters on the table.

There are two major issues Congress is taking on now that is keeping members from working on a fifth stimulus package now. First, Democrats and Republicans are looking to pass police reform in the wake of George Floyd's killing on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests of racial inequality and police brutality, with many demonstrators highlighting the deaths of other Black men and women during police actions. The two sides have very different proposals, and a compromise will need to be reached for legislation to pass in the House and Senate.

Next up is the National Defense Authorization Act. It needs to be debated and passed by the end of August. The Senate Armed Services Committee is already working on it, beginning its annual markups last week, reports Defense News. Its House counterpart was supposed to begin markups in late April, but they have been postponed indefinitely and no new date has been set. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are poised for a clash with President Donald Trump, who has refused to allow the names of Confederate generals to be taken off military assets, notes Newsweek.

Democrats, Republicans and the Trump Administration have all offered different ideas for the next coronavirus stimulus package. House Democrats passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in mid-May, but it was quickly dismissed by Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has insisted that the next package will start in the Senate and "will be done in July."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican senator, told reporters a "phase four" bill will pass in July, but only after the Senate works on other priorities. "If you look right now at the schedule for the balance of the June work period is DOD, great outdoors, a couple circuit judges. ... I don't know how you can wedge that in there," Thune told The Hill. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told reporters the "next installment" will be taken up in July and it was "probably more likely" to pass after the July 4 break.