SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump says he’s ready to send American’s more coronavirus relief checks, but he’s up against senators in his own party who have been slow to agree to another pandemic emergency aid package.
In an interview Monday at the White House, Trump said a second round of individual stimulus checks — similar to Economic Impact Payments distributed under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) — may be in store for Americans.
“I have a lot of viewers in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan who are still struggling economically, sir. They spent all of that first stimulus check, are you going to get them a second stimulus check?” Joe St. George, a Scripps news reporter, asked the president directly.
“Yeah we are. We are,” Trump responded.
The president didn’t expound on the topic and went on to speak about the possibility of a forthcoming stimulus package. Details of the package would “probably” be announced in a couple weeks, Trump said.
The first round of checks — approved by Congress and the White House in late March — were typically a $1,200 direct deposit or mailed check for most Americans.
The president told aides he believes a second issuance of checks to Americans could stimulate the economy and improve his reelection odds this fall, The Washington Post reported. This would align the president more with congressional Democrats who — although working against the president’s bid for a second term — already approved a $3 trillion coronavirus aid bill in May that calls for more stimulus checks.
But the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) — the fourth pandemic response bill — has stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Utah’s four Congressmen, including Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, voted against the HEROES Act. Several congressman referred to to the bill as a dream sheet of Democratic programs.
Rep. Chris Stewart, a Republican, said the bill was “nothing but a socialist wishlist” that “moves our country toward socialist principles which are very, very difficult to move back from,” the Deseret News reported.
“This isn’t a plan, it’s a wish list. At a time when thousands of people are sick, millions are out of work, and small businesses face bankruptcy, we should be laser-focused on a strategy that opens up business and gets people back to work while also addressing the public health crisis caused by this virus,” said McAdams in statement on May 15, the day the bill passed.
A huge portion of the bill, $1 trillion, is earmarked for state, local, and tribal governments, with another $200 billion for coronavirus hazard pay and $75 billion in testing and contact tracing.
“It is unacceptable that the Senate has taken zero action to debate or pass the HEROES Act for this entire month,” Senate Democrats stated in a letter sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week. The letter goes to to say it is “critical” that the bill be addressed before the Independence Day recess.
“Inaction is not an option,” the letter concludes.
McConnell, speaking at an event in Ashland, Kentucky, on Friday, told the audience to “keep your eyes out for July,” when speaking about a future coronavirus relief package, The Herald-Dispatch reported.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that a lot of options were still on the legislative negotiating table. He represented the White House’s agenda in early talks with lawmakers about the previous pandemic stimulus bill, The Associated Press reported.
“We’re going to take our time and make sure that we’re thoughtful. Whatever we do, it will be much more targeted, much more focused on jobs,” Mnuchin said.