Discussions regarding another stimulus relief package have collapsed on Capitol Hill, bringing with it the chance of a second round of stimulus checks. Although a new series of direct payments had gained mainly bipartisan support, hope for another $1,200 amount has all but diminished entirely as overall negotiations ground to a standstill on Friday, prompting President Donald Trump to intervene with executive orders.
The pause in negotiations came after roughly 20 hours of meetings between top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and two members of the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Those discussions had begun immediately after Senate Republicans had introduced their HEALS Act proposal on July 27. Just as quickly as negotiations had begun, so had the opposition, which came from both sides of the aisle.
As discussions continued with little progress, Democrats had introduced a counter offer – a $2 trillion package. That number was more than $1 trillion higher than the price tag of the HEALS Act but $1 trillion lower than that of the Democratic-backed HEROES Act, though Mnuchin considered it a "non-starter," according to CNN. While Democrats had pushed for a large-scale package, Republicans had sought something far lighter than would keep the total at $1 trillion or less.
As it became more apparent that a deal was not going to be met, the president kept true to his word. Speaking at a news conference at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club Friday evening, the president confirmed he would sign executive orders concerning a payroll tax deferment, extending unemployment benefits, extending an eviction moratorium, and deferring student loan payments (and forgiving their interest). He told reporters that "if Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as President to get Americans the relief they need." Just a day later, the president signed those orders, despite pressing questions regarding their legality.
This series of events means that hopes of a second stimulus check are not all but depleted. At this time, it remains unclear if negotiations will continue to reach a deal on an additional stimulus package. Although the president isn't shying away from exercising his executive abilities, he is unable to authorize any further direct payments to the American people. Such a measure would require an act of Congress.