Trump Wants $2,000 Stimulus Checks; Threatens to Sink Stimulus Bill

President Trump asks Congress to send him an amended bill with larger stimulus checks and without "wasteful and unnecessary" provisions.

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Late Monday night, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID relief and government spending bill that, among other things, would provide a second round of stimulus checks ($600 base amount), $300-per-week unemployment benefits, renewed funding for Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, extended tax breaks, and much more. However, less than 24 hours after Congress approved the 5,593-page bill, President Trump threatened to withhold his signature unless the legislation is amended.

In a video Tweet released Tuesday evening, Trump called the bill a "disgrace" and told Congress to send him a "suitable bill or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package." The president asked for amendments that would increase the second-round stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, provide more relief for small businesses (especially restaurants), and "get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items" in the bill. "Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it," Trump said.

Regarding the stimulus checks, Trump specifically noted that "family members of illegal aliens" would be eligible for the direct payments. Up to $1,800 each, according to the president. "This is far more than the Americans are given," he added. "Despite all of this wasteful spending, and much more, the $900 billion package provides hardworking taxpayers with only $600 each in relief payments."

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To help the restaurant industry, the president also called for a longer deduction for business meal expenses. The stimulus bill temporarily bumps the deduction up from 50% to 100% for two years. "Two years is not acceptable; it's not enough," Trump said.

As for the waste and unnecessary provisions, which are mainly in the bill's government spending provisions, Trump listed a number of items in the bill that he said have "almost nothing to do with COVID," such as foreign aid, money for museums and cultural arts centers, fish and wildlife research, and FBI construction projects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with support for the $2,000 stimulus check idea. "At last, the President has agreed to $2,000," she said in a Tweet. "Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let's do it!"

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chimed in as well. He tweeted, "Trump needs to sign the bill to help people and keep the government open and we're glad to pass more aid Americans need." Later, he attempted to put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the spot with another tweet saying, "I'm in. Whaddya say, Mitch?" As of early Wednesday morning, McConnell has not responded.

If President Trump does not sign the bill, it will trigger a government shutdown next week.

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Rocky Mengle
Senior Tax Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rocky is a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, he worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky has a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.