President Trump kinda sorta committed to another round of stimulus checks on Monday.
Asked in an interview with Scripps televisions stations if he’d get viewers (read: voters) who are struggling financially in Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan — all key swings states in the upcoming election —another round of stimulus checks, Trump said, “Yeah, we are. We are.”
Trump’s pledge sounds less than iron-clad. Pressed on how much and when the next round of coronavirus relief would be, Trump shifted to touting the pre-pandemic economy before adding, “We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good. It’ll be very generous.”
As for how much the checks would be, the president said, “You’ll find out about it. You’ll find out.” He said the next package would be bipartisan and would be done “over the next couple of weeks, probably” — an unlikely timeframe given what top GOP senators have said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that negotiations on the next relief bill will only begin next month.
Trump has told aides he largely supports another round of stimulus checks since he believes they will help the economy and his reelection chances, The Washington Post reports. But the idea faces resistance from some conservative lawmakers and White House officials.
“The White House has not officially taken a position on the matter” and the president hasn’t reached a final decision, The Post reports, noting that “the president’s advisers and allies are split,” with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in favor of a second round of payments and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow more skeptical about another program matching the first, which cost about $300 billion. “Probably, we would want to target those to those folks who lost their jobs and are most in need,” Kudlow reportedly told Fox Business on Tuesday. “All right, that’s the speculation on my part, but I think this is -- that’s where it’s going.”
Mnuchin said Tuesday that a number of different ideas are still under discussion for the next coronavirus bill, but that it would be more targeted and focused on the job market. “We’re talking about a bunch of different ideas that we may need to do in another bill, and we want to take our time and make sure we’re thoughtful,” Mnuchin told reporters. “So whatever we do it’ll be much more targeted, much more focused on jobs, bringing back jobs and making sure we take care of our kids.”
The bottom line: Another round of stimulus checks is still in question, and it would reportedly be more likely if paired with reductions in the $600-a-week enhanced unemployment benefit Congress approved in March. That boost in jobless benefits is set to expire at the end of July and its future will also be the subject of negotiations.