STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: can Donald Trump approve it in an executive order?

With Democrats and Republicans still at odds over the coronavirus stimulus bill, the question has arisen on whether Trump could sign an executive order for stimulus checks.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Air Force One as he departs from Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
JOSHUA ROBERTS REUTERS

With the ongoing impasse in Congress over the coronavirus-related economic stimulus bill, US president Donald Trump took action into his own hands on Saturday by signing a number of executive orders aimed at providing relief to Americans struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Following a press conference at his golf resort in Bedminster, N.J., Trump signed four orders on unemployment benefits, payroll tax cuts, an eviction moratorium and student loan relief.

The executive action on the provision for the $400 unemployment benefit bonus – which is $200 less than that which was approved under the CARES Act in March and expired in July – will come as a welcome relief to millions of out-of-work Americans who have been waiting anxiously for congress to move forward with the new stimulus package.

However, what was not covered in the Trump’s executive orders on Saturday was the much-anticipated second round of stimulus checks.

US President Donald Trump signs executive orders extending coronavirus economic relief, during a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2020. JIM WATSON (AFP)

Bipartisan support for second stimulus check

Democratic and Republican lawmakers disagree on a lot of things when it comes to the stimulus bill (Democrats want to spend $3 trillion dollars as proposed in its HEROES Act, while Republicans propose a much more modest $1 trillion spend as outlined in the HEALS Act), but one thing both sides agree on is the need for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

Trump has hinted that the second round of checks could be more than the $1,200. But his executive orders passed on Saturday did not cover checks, which was a grave disappoint for the many American wondering when they are going to receive the much-needed financial aid.

Could Trump approve second stimulus checks in an executive order?

With Democrats and Republicans still at odds over the stimulus bill, the question has arisen on whether Trump could sign an executive order for stimulus checks, just as he had done for the $400 unemployment benefit on Saturday.

Well according to bestselling author and personal finance expert, Zack Friedman, the answer is likely no.

“Trump has targeted a payroll tax, unemployment benefits, an eviction moratorium and student loan relief as his four areas of focus for an executive order,” writes Friedman for Forbes.

“He never mentioned including stimulus checks as part of his executive order plan. Why? The reason is separation of powers. Presidents can issue executive orders, but typically measures such as stimulus checks must be passed by Congress through legislative action. Congress controls federal spending, which likely would include stimulus payments.”

That means that struggling Americans will have to wait for the checks to be passed by Congress. How long that will take is still uncertain due to the bi-partisan differences that need to be overcome before a bill is passed and then signed into law by the president.

But what does seem certain is that when and whatever bill is eventually passed, it will include a provision for a second round of stimulus checks.

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