Donald Trump has committed to supporting a “very generous” coronavirus relief package in a new interview, while appearing to suggest the forthcoming legislation will include another check to be sent to the majority of Americans.
Asked whether the reported Republican-led Senate bill will direct payments, similar to the $1,200 checks included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the president said: “Yeah, we are.”
He was then pressed for more details by Scripps’ Washington correspondent, Joe St George, who asked: “When? When are you going to get it?”
Mr Trump responded: “We had this going better than anybody’s ever seen before. We had the best job numbers, the best economics, the best economy we’ve ever had, and then we had the virus come in from China. Now we’re rebuilding it again. We will be doing another stimulus package. It’ll be very good, it’ll be very generous.”
Prior to this week, the president had not publicly backed including a second wave of direct payments — one of the most costly aspects of the sweeping $2trn CARES Act — in any new coronavirus relief packages. Though he seemingly confirmed a second form of payments were coming, he declined to provide any additional details, only going on to discuss the bill rather than the payments themselves.
The reporter pressed on, asking Mr Trump “how much” the payments would amount to and added: “People want to know.”
Mr Trump said the bill would likely be “bi-partisan” and announced “over the couple of weeks, probably”.
While the president appeared to be supportive of another round of direct payments, White House officials were more hesitant to back a second wave of checks.
One official told NBC News the checks were “part of something the economic team is studying” while noting: “No decisions made yet.”
Mr Trump and his allies have declined to support the HEROES Act, a Democratic-led bill that was passed in the House and includes $1,200 checks to most Americans, including equal payments for child dependents. Republicans on Capitol Hill have said the next coronavirus relief package will be written in the Senate, rather than the House.