Second stimulus check: for how long has President Trump postponed the talks?
The President’s Twitter outburst could mean that Americans are without Covid-19 financial support for months longer than initially thought.
After months of negotiation hopes that the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act would be passed into law before the election appear to have been dashed. The legislation included a second batch of stimulus checks, unemployment benefits and assistance for small businesses and student loan borrowers.
In a series of tweets, Donald Trump announced that he has instructed his representatives to halt the talks.
The President tweeted that no further negotiations on the coronavirus financial support package would take place until after the election on 3 November. If he is successful, Trump promised to pass “a major stimulus bill that focuses on hard-working Americans and Small Business”.
Extra delay for stimulus checks and support for businesses
In reality, the likelihood of such a significant and far-reaching programme of support being agreed immediately after an election is small and could be delayed further by the circumstances of this year’s race.
With many voters unable or unwilling to visit a polling station due to the pandemic experts are predicting record numbers of postal votes. In 2016 the final vote count was not returned for over a month and that delay will be exacerbated by the President’s refusal to provide additional funding to help the US Postal Service deal with the backlog.
The issue of postal voting has been particularly fraught during this election with Trump repeatedly insisting that he feared the result could be compromised. Earlier this year the President claimed: “Mail-in ballots are very dangerous. There is tremendous fraud involved and tremendous illegality.”
During the first Presidential debate he was asked to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses November’s election but he failed to do so. If Trump were to challenge the result on the election, a move unprecedented in American history, any progress on the stimulus package would be delayed even further.
New President would not take office until 2021
Trump’s proposal is based on his belief that he will be victorious in the general election and can get to work straight away, but the polling data tells a very different story. Challenger Joe Biden is comfortably ahead in the polls and is the favourite to win on 3 November.
But if Biden were to win he would not officially become President until 20 January 2021 when he is inaugurated. That additional delay could cause chaos in the government if Trump remains unwilling to pass the HEROES Act. In theory that deadlock would not be broken until Biden officially takes office in early 2021, three and a half months away.
There is also the possibility that, whichever way it goes, the fallout from the election results could lead to a new bill being drafted which would then need to make its way through both Congress and the Senate. At this stage it is impossible to know when the second stimulus check will be made available to Americans but today’s news means that some delay is inevitable.