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 Trumpâ€™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, Trumpâ€™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 â€” despite Trumpâ€™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, Trumpâ€™s announcement was full of flourishes with tenuous connections to reality. In the statement issued from his vacation home, he blames â€œDemocrat-run statesâ€ for shutdowns that have hurt the economy while condemning a spending bill featuring items the White House requested in its budget as â€œwasteful.â€ In one of the letterâ€™s more wishful demands, he claims he will send back a â€œredlined versionâ€ 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 letterâ€™s most wishful clause, he adds that â€œthe House and Senate have agreed to focus strongly on the very substantial voter fraudâ€ that took place during the election. Though an alarming number of House Republicans have signed on to Trumpâ€™s baseless contestation, Mitch McConnell has not â€” focusing instead on the very real prospect of securing his his partyâ€™s majority in the Senate.