STIMULUS CHECKS

Second stimulus check: What has Donald Trump said about a second payment?

At the White House last Friday, President Donald Trump suggested an idea that could see a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks sent out immediately.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a labor day press conference in the North Portico of the White House in Washington, DC on September 7, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP)
MANDEL NGAN AFP

With just three weeks to go until go until the federal budget deadline, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have yet to agree on a new coronavirus relief package, which, among other measures, could include a second round of stimulus checks, if or when a new bill is eventually passed.

The key issue dividing the parties is relating to the amount of money they want to spend on a new package. While the Democrats initially proposed a $3 trillion spend, the Republicans proposal was a much more modest $1 trillion.

While both sides have re-jigged their proposals in a bid to come closer to a deal, they are still a long way off a mutual figure, with Democratic leader and chief negotiator, Nancy Pelosi, remaining steadfast that the US needs to spend at least $2.5 trillion on a new package.

Pelosi is not prepared to negotiate with Republicans unless they are willing to spend $2.5 trillion on a new relief package.

Parties to work on continuing resolution to avoid Gov’t shutdown

Speaking to Fox News Sunday, Republican chief negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said that while Pelosi is refusing to negotiate with Republicans unless they are willing to spend $2.5 trillion, she has agreed to a continuing resolution that will stop the government from shutting down on 1 October due to Congress’ inability to pass a federal budget.

A continuing resolution (CR) is often used as a temporary measure to keep the government open until it is able to pass the outstanding spending bills – with one of those outstanding bills likely to be the second coronavirus stimulus package.

“The speaker has refused to sit down and negotiate unless we agree to something like a $2.5 trillion deal in advance,” Mnuchin said. “As you know, we put $3 trillion into the economy when the economy was completely shut down and we’ve now reopened the economy. Let’s do a more targeted bill now and if we need to do more in 30 days we’ll continue to do more.”

Stimulus checks: where does Trump stand?

While Trump was initially open to the idea of a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, he appeared to have changed his stance in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, following a call with Pelosi that failed to lead to a breakthrough, Republican negotiator, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, revealed that President Donald Trump was willing to raise the Republican offer by $300 billion and sign a bill worth $1.3 trillion – a bill, though, that would not include provisions for a second stimulus check. However, Pelosi maintained that $1.3 trillion figure was still too low.

But it now appears that Trump is still open to the possibility of sending a second round of stimulus payments, and, last Friday, suggested that Congress could send out the stimulus checks immediately by unlocking $300 billion in remaining coronavirus relief funds.

Trump: $300bn stimulus money "would go right to American people"

“Now, we have $300 billion in a — an account that we didn’t use — $300 billion,” Trump said at the White House last Friday. “And we are willing to use that. I would be willing to release it, subject to Congress, and use that as stimulus money, and it would go right to the American people. So we have $300 billion sitting in an account that we didn’t need because things are going so well with the economy.”

According to Fox Business, Trump may have been referring to funding allocated for small business loans, of which $259 billion remains uncommitted.

“Again, we have $300 billion ready to go,” Trump said. “All Congress has to do is say, ‘Use it.’ If they say, ‘Use it’ — I’d like to use it without their permission, but I guess I’m not allowed to do that. I did ask that question. So Congress has to just say, ‘Use it.’ All they have to do is say, ‘Use it’; $300 billion gets immediately put into our system, and will really help the American people. There’s nothing else to do — just a very quick statement.”

The $259 billion would be more than enough to pay the some 160 million Americans who qualified for the first round of $1,200 stimulus checks that were passed under the CARES Act in March, which also included $500 for each qualifying child under the age of 17 (for up to three children).

Democrats and Republicans broadly agree on the need for a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks. However, Republicans want to the keep the same $500 figure for dependents, while Democrats called for $1,200 for each dependent, with a maximum of three dependents. But it is in other areas that the two parties are struggling to agree, which has caused the impasse on the new stimulus bill.