As President Donald Trump and a number of Republican senators are treated for COVID-19, the timeline to pass legislation for a new pandemic relief package has become even more questionable six months after the initial $1,200 stimulus checks were distributed by the government to keep people and small businesses afloat amid the pandemic. Both sides of the political spectrum have agreed another stimulus package is important, but have spent months arguing over the terms of legislation.
While The Washington Post reported House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could come to an agreement on a stimulus package this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has canceled votes planned in the Senate until Oct. 19 as COVID spreads throughout the GOP. McConnell said he would give senators 24 hours of notice to return in person for a vote if a new relief bill is ready in the next two weeks. "We're making progress," Pelosi said on Face the Nation Sunday. "It just depends on if they understand what we have to do to crush the virus."
If a final bill is agreed upon in Congress, it would still require a presidential signature to be made law, and if Trump is incapacitated by COVID, Vice President Mike Pence could step in. Monday, Trump announced he was being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after testing positive for the coronavirus last week and being treated for low oxygen levels.
"I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!" he tweeted. "Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"
Trump broke his quarantine for a "little surprise visit" with his supporters in a drive-by appearance Sunday, sparking outrage from medical professionals. Dr. James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed and the chief of disaster medicine at the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine, called Trump breaking quarantine irresponsible "political theater" on Twitter, writing, "That Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID-19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding."
"My thoughts are with the Secret Service forced to play," he continued. "Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential 'drive-by' just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity."