President Donald Trump recently suggested using $300 billion in COVID-19 relief funds for more direct payments for Americans.
“We have $300 billion in an account that we didn’t use. I would be willing to release it, subject to Congress, and use that as stimulus money and it would go right to the American people,” Trump said Friday at a White House press conference. “We’re willing to spend it, I’d like to get approval from Congress. There’s a theory that I don’t have to do that, but I’d rather be up front and I’d like to get approval from Congress.”
Trump is likely referring to unspent business loan money that had been approved under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act signed in March. The Economic Policy Institute has estimated that the first round of $1,200 payments cost around $300 billion.
There is broad bipartisan support for another stimulus check. A recent Gallup survey found 82% of Democrats support another round of checks, along with 64% of Republicans and 66% of independents.
Some analysts have been critical of another stimulus check, as the federal government would give money to many Americans who still have full-time employment. A June op-ed from the Washington Post editorial board suggests that the payments would not be an effective stimulus as “many recipients will treat a second payment as a one-shot windfall to be saved, just as they did with the first.”
Negotiations on another stimulus package are currently stalled on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans are expected to vote on a trimmed-down coronavirus relief package this week, but the legislation does not include another round of direct payments.