Stimulus Bill and Checks Not Likely to Arrive Before Biden Takes Office

Another round of economic stimulus may have to wait until former Vice President Joe Biden takes office in January as deadlock in Congress continues and the Senate heads for its holiday recess.

Tens of millions of Americans received $1,200 stimulus checks in April of this year but a second check looks increasingly unlikely in 2020 and may have to be taken up by the new Congress.

It's still possible for Congress to pass a stimulus bill before the Senate adjourns on December 18 but any bill agreed between Republicans and Democrats is unlikely to match the $2.2 trillion in stimulus passed in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March.

Even if a new stimulus bill is passed, a second round of $1200 checks may be off the table until Biden assumes office on January 20.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are attempting to reach agreement on a relief package that could be worth less than $1 trillion and a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill.

However, success is not guaranteed. There are significant differences between the parties about how the money should be spent.

The Trump administration has indicated that it's not in a rush on COVID-19 stimulus and with President Donald Trump due to leave office, the task may be left to Biden.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist of the National Economic Council, told Yahoo Finance on Friday that "we don't believe the [economic] recovery at the moment is in jeopardy," calling any further stimulus an "insurance policy."

"What we don't want to do is give money for sort of a grab bag wish list project of the left," said LaVorgna, a Trump appointee.

For his part, Biden has expressed confidence that there's room for bipartisan agreement on a new stimulus deal. Reports suggest he's focused on steps to aid the economic recovery.

"All I can say is I'm confident there are a sufficient number of Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate, along with significant votes coming out of the House of Representatives, to put together a serious package that will keep us from going off the edge here, provide the kind of resources that are needed immediately," Biden said on Friday.

By the time Biden takes the oath of office, the new Congress will have been seated and two runoff elections in Georgia will have decided control of the Senate. If Democrats can pull off surprise wins in both races, the incoming Biden administration would be in a stronger position to pass a large stimulus package.

Biden Speaks on November Job Numbers
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden speaks on November job numbers at the Queen theater December 4, Wilmington, Delaware. U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November and pushed unemployment rate to 6.7% from 6.9% in October. Biden could be key to passing new economic stimulus. Alex Wong/Getty Images