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Second stimulus check: can Trump approve it now?

Despite his unfounded claims to the contrary, Donald Trump will be leaving the White House in January, but he could yet play a pivotal role in a coronavirus relief package

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Second stimulus check: can Trump approve it now?
CARLOS BARRIA REUTERS

Donald Trump is still President of the United States until 20 January 2021, albeit a lame duck one, but he can still sign legislation that comes across his desk into law. In the same way that he can fire out questionable executive orders on trade, health care and immigration before his term ends, so too can he put his signature on a much-needed financial aid package. 

Trump could still play key role in stimulus relief package 

One major piece of legislation that needs to be passed before 11 December is a funding package to keep the government from shutting down. As the 116th Congress works to provide this finance for the government there is hope, but in short supply, that some coronavirus stimulus will work its way into the bill.

As it stands Congress is still divided, as the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker continues to negotiate with the Senate, which in the hands of the Republicans with Mitch McConnell at the helm. (It's worth noting that the upper chamber could change hands in January).

Prior to the election Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking for the White House, had been negotiating a stimulus package with the White House inching closer to the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act 2.0 passed in the House.

Meanwhile in the Senate, Majority Leader McConnell had tried to pass piecemeal stimulus funding, so-called a 'skinny' bill, paid for with money left over from the original CARES Act passed in the spring. These bills failed to pass and had Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling them 'show votes'.

And for his part, in what were his first public comments since being defeated by Joe Biden in the presidential election, on Saturday Trump called on Congress to pass a relief bill.

“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” he tweeted. “Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”

What has changed?

All sides are still entrenched in their positions with Democrats pushing for a comprehensive package and McConnell still of the opinion that his smaller piecemeal legislation is more suitable, without a new round of $1,200 Economic Impact Payments being necessary.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday McConnell threw cold water on any ambitious stimulus package getting passed in the current Senate, saying that with the economy picking up they should focus on doing something “highly targeted at what the residual problems are,” according to reporting in Politico.

However, it has also been reported that Pelosi has been speaking to Senate Appropriations Chair, Richard Shelby, suggesting progress may yet be made. Talks with Mnuchin haven’t resumed but according to Senator Susan Collins he is still working on it. Collins has reiterated her desire to see some kind of compromise bill to get over the log-jam and help those millions of Americans that desperately need support.