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Stimulus package talks are set to restart. What it could mean for a new check

Economic relief talks got new life this week. Here's what we know about how they may affect a second payment and how the bill could squeak by before the election.

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Congress has a handful of days to reach a deal before breaking for the election.

Angela Lang/CNET

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have each indicated that they'll resume negotiating to pass a new economic relief package, which could authorize second round of stimulus checks and other benefits to millions of Americans who qualify.

"I've probably spoken to Speaker Pelosi 15 or 20 times in the last few days ... and we've agreed to continue to have discussions about the CARES Act," Mnuchin said Thursday.

"I am hoping for a deal," Pelosi said Sunday on CNN. "I'd rather have a deal to put money in people's pockets than to have a rhetorical argument."

House Democrats are reportedly preparing a new proposal with around $2.4 trillion in aid, which is roughly $1 trillion less than the Heroes Act proposed in May. The new bill would reinstate enhanced unemployment benefits, direct payments to eligible Americans, the Paycheck Protection Program for small-business loan funding, and airline aid, and could be ready for a vote by Oct. 2, according to The Hill.

Time is running out to pass legislation before the Nov. 3 election. In light of this new information, we've pulled some dates and identified possible scenarios that could play out for the next stimulus package. Here are the most important things to know about stimulus checks. We update this story regularly.

With talks restarting, a new package could still squeak by before Nov. 3

The clock is running on both sides of the aisle to agree on another stimulus package before election day. The last day a new bill could pass is still up in the air, since the schedules to break after this current session can be extended by the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. 

Possible timelines for when a stimulus bill could pass

Senate votes House votes President signs
Oct. 2 Oct. 3 Oct. 4
Oct. 9 Oct. 13 (Oct. 12 is Columbus Day) Oct. 14
Oct. 16 Oct. 19 Oct. 20
Oct. 23 Oct. 26 Oct. 27

If nothing changes, Oct. 9 -- the final day of the Senate session -- is the last time a bill has to clear the upper chamber, but it still isn't the final day a bill could pass. The House, for example, plans to postpone the start of its next break, originally scheduled for Oct. 2, until a deal is reached. If the bill passes the Senate on or by Oct. 9, the House could pass it after that date. And if negotiators close in on a deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could also compel the Senate to stay in session longer or come back early to vote on a proposal. 

Still, it's less likely a bill could pass days before the election as the presidential candidates -- President Donald Trump, who must sign the bill into law, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden -- complete their campaigns.

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Congress could choose to focus on small, standalone bills

If the Senate rejects the House's new smaller bill, some in Washington say the way to break the stalemate is to pass a series of even narrower bills that target specific areas -- such as the entertainment and airline industries -- but that's less likely to happen before the election.

The Senate made one attempt with its Delivering Immediate Relief to America's Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, but that proposal failed in the Senate. The House also presented a piecemeal bill seeking to provide funding to the US Postal Service ahead of an election in which many Americans, wary of in-person voting during a pandemic, will likely be voting by mail

The president could still take additional executive action

After talks originally collapsed on Aug. 7, Trump signed one executive order and three memoranda on Aug. 8. It's possible more executive actions would be forthcoming if this final attempt at negotiations fails before the election, though there's been no development after Trump first suggested his administration might consider another executive action to bypass Congress.

Trump's current COVID-19 relief executive actions address slowing evictions, extending unemployment benefits to a lesser degree and deferring payroll taxes until next year.

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The end of all talks would be devastating to millions of Americans.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Negotiators could push out the stimulus package if talks falter

With the Nov. 3 election weeks away, the atmosphere in Washington may be too politically charged to pass more economic relief bills, and leaders may want to see what happens in the period after the election on Nov.e 3 and before the presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021.

With 470 seats in the US Congress -- 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats -- up for a vote in November, any change in majority to the House or Senate, and to the presidency, shifts the likelihood of certain laws being passed one way or another.

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Democrats and Republicans have disagreed on how much relief aid should be included in the stimulus package. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The government's response to the coronavirus pandemic is already playing heavily in the campaign. If a deal isn't reached soon, the topic of a relief package is likely to come up during town halls and debates between Trump and Biden in the coming weeks. 

If talks fail again, lawmakers could take no action

We think this outcome is less likely, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. Unemployment remains at staggeringly high levels and a housing crisis looms on the horizon. If no action is taken on a relief package, individual bills or executive orders, it could potentially cause the economy to plunge into a deeper recession, as economists say the damage already done is beginning to mirror the Great Recession of the late 2000s

For more information, here's how soon you might get your second stimulus check and what to know about the HEALS, CARES and Heroes stimulus bill proposals that could help inform a final package.