Trump Signs Second Stimulus Bill Only After Unemployment Aid Expires

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On Sunday night, President Trump signed the second coronavirus stimulus after six days of delay. The $2.3 trillion total price tag for the bill signed by the president includes $908 billion in aid programs for individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19, as well as a nearly $1.4 trillion in spending that will keep the federal government operating until the end of fiscal year 2021 in September.

With the president on vacation golfing at Mar-a-Lago, the vice-president on vacation in Vail, and the Treasury Secretary on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, the timing of Trump’s delay was far from ideal. By stalling his decision to approve the effort with an unlikely demand for a $2,000 direct check refused by his party, Trump’s signature came the day after around 14 million Americans saw their pandemic unemployment benefits expire. By delaying for close to a week after ignoring the negotiation process entirely, the length of the $300 unemployment assistance program will also be effectively shortened from 11 weeks to 10 weeks. If his negligence lingered past tomorrow night, the government would have been shut down during a pandemic that has killed one in 1,000 Americans.

In addition to the $300 weekly federal unemployment benefit above, the bill will include a $600 direct check to Americans making less than $75,000 — despite Trump’s protestations that lawmakers return to the table to boost that payment to $2,000, a number some progressive Democrats initially demanded. There will also be $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program to provide forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover payroll, rent, and utilities. Other stimulus measures include $82 billion for schools, $69 billion for public-health and vaccination efforts, $45 billion for transportation, $25 billion in rental assistance, and an end to surprise medical billing.

Naturally, Trump’s announcement was full of flourishes with tenuous connections to reality. In the statement issued from his vacation home, he blames “Democrat-run states” for shutdowns that have hurt the economy while condemning a spending bill featuring items the White House requested in its budget as “wasteful.” In one of the letter’s more wishful demands, he claims he will send back a “redlined version” of the bill to Congress, where lawmakers will take heed of his cuts and his request for $2,000 direct checks to Americans. However, Trump does not have line-item veto power and Republicans have been staunch in their opposition to increasing the aid.

In the letter’s most wishful clause, he adds that “the House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraud” that took place during the election. Though an alarming number of House Republicans have signed on to Trump’s baseless contestation, Mitch McConnell has not — focusing instead on the very real prospect of securing his his party’s majority in the Senate.