Coronavirus USA

Second stimulus check: Trump blames Democrats for delay

US President Donald Trump let fly on social media amid stalled talks on a fresh stimulus package, accusing Democrats of delaying the relief bill.

Second stimulus check: Trump blames Democrats for delay
SARAH SILBIGER REUTERS

Democrats and Republicans remain deadlocked over the finer points of a fresh stimulus package to kick-start the stuttering US economy and it appears as though there will be little movement in talks between senior negotiators from both sides of the floor after the Senate went into recess this week. The divisions between the parties have led to the latest relief package being put on hold - potentially until the Senate reconvenes on 8 September although leaders of both parties have told senators to be ready to be recalled at 24 hours’ notice if required.

In the meantime, tens of millions of Americans are awaiting news of a second round of stimulus checks amid the coronavirus pandemic and an economic downturn that has led to some of the highest unemployment rates in US history.

Democrats and Republicans remain deadlocked on stimulus bill

While both Republicans and Democrats have reached broad consensus on the need to generate a second round of stimulus checks, there are several issues that have prevented a new package being pushed through. Chief among these is the overall size of the relief fund with a $2 trillion chasm between the Democrat and Republican proposals. Funding for schools, aid to state and local governments and unemployment pay have also provided stumbling blocks to the approval of the latest relief measures.

Democrats offered to reduce their proposal by $1 trillion during negotiations with White House officials last week but the offer was rejected. The impasse has led to finger pointing from both sides of the floor and President Donald Trump on Friday accused Democrats of stalling the deal in a series of posts on social media.

Trump hints at further executive orders

Trump also reiterated he was ready to act unilaterally to pump stimulus money into the US economy after signing executive orders last week addressing unemployment benefits, evictions, payroll tax and student loans. However, economists dismissed the measures as too limited to have a significant effect on an economy hammered by the pandemic. They have yet to be carried out.

The US president intimated that any new orders on his part would be aimed at providing Americans with direct payments as well as money for small businesses and state and local governments. "DEMOCRATS ARE HOLDING THIS UP!" the president wrote repeatedly in the series of tweets.

No relief package talks on the table

Aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer were not immediately available for comment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Pelosi disclosed there were no coronavirus talks scheduled.

Trump's move came a day after he said he was blocking talks to prevent Democrats from providing more money for the Postal Service or state and local election officials struggling to prepare for the November presidential elections during the Covid-19 crisis.

It was not clear what authority he would have to dispense additional relief. The US Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to determine taxes and spending, which limits Trump's ability to pump meaningful amounts of stimulus money into the economy on his own.