Trump backs second coronavirus stimulus check but could face challenge from some Democrats, Republicans
There's concern among White House officials that Americans pocketed first check rather than spending it
President Trump has suggested he's supportive of sending Americans a second round of stimulus checks — but some Democrats and Republicans are skeptical of sending out more direct payments.
Asked Monday during an interview by Scripps reporter Joe St. George whether he plans to give another cash payment to some Americans, Trump said, "Yeah we are. We are."
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"We will be doing another stimulus package," he added. "It'll be very good, it'll be very generous."
Trump declined to say how much money Americans could see. "You'll find out about," he said. "You'll find out."
In March, Congress approved payments of up to $1,200 for every American citizen earning less than $75,000 per year in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. At the beginning of June, the IRS had sent checks to some 159 million Americans. The payments totaled $267 billion.
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The White House has not officially taken a stance on a second stimulus payment. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and senior White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow have both signaled that a second round of cash payments is on the table in the next virus aid package.
“I think the tax rebates or the direct mail checks are on the table," Kudlow told FOX Business on Tuesday. "There are a lot of discussions going on. Probably, we would want to target those to those folks who lost their jobs and are most in need. All right, that’s the speculation on my part, but I think this is — that’s where it’s going.”
But leading congressional Republicans, some Senate Democrats and a handful of Trump's economic advisers have questioned the need for a second stimulus check, posing a potential challenge to the stimulus package set to be taken up by lawmakers in July.
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“A lot of the stimulus checks that have gone out right now — people have been saving money and putting it into their savings accounts,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., told reporters this week. “For me, let’s get people back to work. I think that’s a better way."
There's some concern among White House officials that Americans pocketed the money rather than spending it, according to The Washington Post, citing a person with knowledge of the internal discussions. Since the pandemic started, U.S. bank deposits have surged by $2 trillion, buoyed by the federal government's massive relief efforts.
In April, the personal savings rate in the country climbed to 33 percent, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.
But it's not just Republicans who are pumping the brakes on another check.
Sen. Ben Cardin, R-Md., a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he wants the next round of coronavirus relief to target households that have been hit hardest by the recession.
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“I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” he told the Hill.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., told The Hill he would ultimately back a second payment but suggested he would like to prioritize other relief measures like expanding unemployment benefits and providing more relief to small businesses.
A group of influential conservative leaders has also urged Trump to rein in coronavirus spending as the U.S. deficit swells. The nation's gap between what it spends and what it collects is expected to surge to $3.7 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget office.
They've argued that further spending could derail the U.S. economy’s recovery from the virus outbreak and subsequent shutdown.
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