For weeks, Americans have been looking for a sign that the Senate could approve a second stimulus check for eligible Americans. And for weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said his chamber of Congress would make that decision in July: if there will be a new stimulus package after all, if it will include new direct payments, who would be eligible and when the second round of checks will go out.
"We're going to stay on the schedule that I announced earlier in the year," McConnell said in a June 30 briefing. "We will not be here in August." McConnell has warned that the next relief package will also be the last.
But July is a long month and when exactly during its 31 days Congress will reach a decision is still unknown. Complicating the matter are some lengthy recesses when the Senate will not be in session. Using that schedule and lawmakers' clues, we can estimate when the IRS could start to send a second round of checks if it passes Congress and gets the president's signature. 
This story updates frequently with new information. If you're still waiting on the first round, you can track the status of your stimulus check, see some possible reasons why you don't have a check yet, and learn how to report a missing stimulus check to the IRS.

Congress is expected to start work soon on a new coronavirus stimulus bill that may put another $1,200 in your wallet.
Angela Lang/CNET

Stimulus check timeline: The dates that matter

Congress hasn't set a date for a vote on a second government stimulus package, but we know the basic timeframe it will work with. Here are the key dates for a second stimulus check:
July 3 to July 17: The Senate will take a planned recess starting Friday, July 3, and return to work Monday, July 20.
According to Sen. Roy Blunt, members of the Senate will use the July break to collect the information they need for a second coronavirus package and then return ready to work. "I think the timing is going to be just about right for us to know what we need to know for a package that moves us into August, September, and October," Blunt said on Tuesday.
July 20 to Aug. 7: The Senate will be in session the last two weeks of July and the first week of August, until Friday, Aug. 7. 
Aug. 10 to Sept. 7: The Senate will be on its August recess, which lasts through Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 7. There are 32 days from the last date of the Senate session (Aug. 7) until the first day of the following session (Tues, Sept. 8). The Senate would not work through the August break, McConnell said on Tuesday.
If the Senate does take up a second stimulus package in July, a new bill authorizing the checks would need to pass both chambers on or before Friday, Aug. 7 to clear the Senate's August break.
Sept. 8 to Sept. 25: The Senate is back in session. If Congress does not complete the stimulus package by the start of the August break, it would need to resume in September.

When could the IRS send a second stimulus payment?

If the House and Senate do give a second round of stimulus checks the green light, it's not out of the question that the checks could start to be sent out by the IRS in August. 
For reference, the president signed the CARES Act into law on March 27 and the first stimulus payments went out less than three weeks later, on April 15. 
For the purpose of speculation only, let's say that a new stimulus act becomes law on Friday, Aug. 7. Following the CARES Act timeline, the first checks could go out by Aug. 26.
It's plausible, however, that the IRS could move even faster to send out the first wave of stimulus checks, since it already has the mechanism in place from the first batch, including a tool for people to sign up for a direct deposit and track their payments
Factors like how many people would qualify for payment the second time around could play a role in slowing down or speeding up this timeline.

What's the final date I could receive a second stimulus check?

A second stimulus bill could be the last for Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Angela Lang/CNET

While we don't know anything official -- and won't until another rescue package is official -- we can draw on the experience of the first stimulus checks as a potential blueprint. The IRS will have sent about 200 million checks by the time it's done distributing payments. (The total US population is nearly 330 million people, according to the Census Bureau.)
At the beginning of June, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated (PDF) as many as 35 million Americans could still be owed a payment. The IRS will continue to disburse the final batches through the end of the year. If there are fewer people receiving a second stimulus check, however, it's possible that it won't take as long to send a second round of checks.
If you didn't get your money yet, here are 10 possible reasons for a delay. If you're worried you were supposed to receive your check and didn't, here's what you can do

Do we still need a second stimulus check? The unemployment debate heats up

Is a second stimulus check necessary? That question is at the heart of this debate. 
"The path forward for the economy remains extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus," said Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell during House testimony on Tuesday. "The path forward will also depend on policy actions taken at all levels of government to provide relief and to support the recovery for as long as needed."
Weekly jobless claims continue to show a US economy struggling to find its footing. For the week ending June 27, 1.42 million workers filed first-time jobless claims, making 15 straight weeks new claims were over 1 million, the Labor Department reported (PDF). Initial claims were down slightly from the 1.48 million of the week before.
June study (PDF) by the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University advanced that without the stimulus money, America's poverty level could have spiked from 12.5% before the pandemic to 16.3% today. 
The center predicted, "If high unemployment rates persist beyond July 2020, additional income support will be needed" to keep poverty from soaring during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The study also notes the categories of people who aren't eligible to receive the funds authorized by the CARES Act and that some eligible families are facing roadblocks receiving their benefits. The expanded unemployment benefits keeping some afloat are set to expire at the end of July.

Even with some businesses starting to open, the US has a staggeringly high unemployment rate.
Angela Lang/CNET

What will it take to get a second stimulus check and what happens now?

The passage of the second round of IRS payments appears to depend on two things: how badly the economy is faring and if lawmakers believe a direct payment to millions of people is the best way to respond to the current recession
For now, we wait till the Senate returns from its July recess to take up the next stimulus package. To receive a second check, the proposed rescue package would need to pass both the House and the Senate before receiving a signature from the president. Only then could it take effect. 
After that, the IRS now has a system in place to organize and distribute those checks. But it could still be weeks more before you receive payment.
We'll continue to update this story with new information as it arises. While the future of a second stimulus bill remains undecided, we'll share available resources about coronavirus hardship loans and unemployment insurancewhat you can do if you've lost your jobwhat to know about evictions, and late car payments and how to take control of your budget.