President Trump is pushing Congress to approve a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks by reallocating $300 billion in unused coronavirus relief funds.
“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 during a White House press briefing, according to FOX Business.
Trump said he considered redirecting the funds unilaterally, but was told he needs Congress’ approval. Trump also did not say specifically where the money would be coming from but the funds may come from unused business loan funds approved by Congress at the end of March as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.
Under the CARES Act, Congress appropriated $500 billion to the Treasury, with $454 billion allocated to cover losses on Federal Reserve lending programs. Wall Street Journal Correspondent Nick Timiraos said on Twitter $259 billion of that funding remains uncommitted.
“It’s money that we have — money that we built up and money that we haven’t spent, and I would love to give it to the American people as a very powerful stimulus,” Trump told reporters Friday.
“I think there is a theory that I could do it without having to go back, but I think it would be appropriate to go back, and I would ask Congress to approve it. It’s a very simple approval. It’s — literally, it’s a one-sentence approval, and the Democrats should do that. The Republicans will do that. They would be glad to do that.”
An estimate by the Economic Policy Institute showed the first set of coronavirus stimulus checks totaled about $300 billion. Both Democrats and Republicans support another round of stimulus checks, but there have been no relief negotiations since the first week of August.
Democrats said they were willing to come down from the roughly $3 trillion HEROES Act the House passed in May by $1 trillion. Republicans, however, want to keep any stimulus relief package around $1 trillion amid growing concerns over the nation’s ballooning deficit.
Another issue lawmakers are fighting over is how much federal aid unemployed Americans should receive. Democrats have said the $600-a-week benefit needs to be extended through the end of the year. Republicans, meanwhile, have argued it discourages Americans from returning to jobs that pay less, a notion many economists have disputed.