December 5, 2020

Trump Reverses Stance on Stimulus, Asks for $1,200 Checks and Small Business Relief

Is a second stimulus check back on the table?

In recent weeks, lawmakers had actually appeared to be getting closer to a deal on another coronavirus relief bill, with leaders from both parties indicating progress had been made and they were hopeful a compromise could be found.

That’s why it came as a shock when President Donald Trump announced yesterday that he had instructed his team to halt negotiations and said he would prefer lawmakers wait until after the upcoming November election to pass a stimulus package. The president had been one of the biggest proponents of a generous stimulus bill, so his announcement came as a shock.

Late in the evening, however, the president appeared to reverse course, releasing several statements via Twitter indicating his continued support for specific stimulus relief — including a $1,200 check for most Americans.

The president is back on board with more coronavirus stimulus

At 9:45 p.m. on Oct. 6, Trump tweeted, “The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!”

He followed this statement up with a subsequent tweet at 10:18 p.m. saying, “If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” The president also tagged White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the Senate Majority Leader, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The president may have changed course after political commentators warned that shutting down stimulus negotiations could have an adverse impact on his chances in the upcoming 2020 election, or his decision may have been impacted by the effect of his tweet on the stock market, with the S&P 500 index falling after he announced the plan to put stimulus negotiations on hold until after the election.

While his updated position may provide new hope to those waiting for relief, Democrats have made it clear they are unwilling to provide relief through a series of piecemeal bills and would sign on only to a broader stimulus package totaling $2.2 to $2.4 trillion at a minimum.

Republicans have, in the past, attempted to pass a so-called “skinny” bill that would offer more narrow aid, and this was roundly rejected. With the president suggesting only stimulus checks and help for a few industries, Democrats are very unlikely to take him up on his offer, as a bill addressing only these issues would leave out some of their key priorities, including additional help for the unemployed and for beleaguered states.

It is unclear if the tweets will lead his team to restart negotiations with leaders on the left, but with the president’s apparently conflicting positions adding another wrench into an already difficult process, those hoping for more money in their bank accounts are more likely than not to be disappointed.

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