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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is working with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to draft the fourth coronavirus relief package, to be introduced when Congress returns from recess in late April or early May (the exact date, at the moment, is fluid). Although the details have yet to be hammered out, the bill is expected to cost a whopping $1 trillion and include a very special provision authored by Schumer himself: an act banning President Donald Trump from putting his name on physical stimulus checks.
According to reports from earlier this month, President Donald Trump — or, possibly Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, per Forbes — made the decision to first include his signature on the $1,200-per-person coronavirus stimulus checks currently being mailed out to most Americans, and then to move his name to the “memo” line of the checks.
Democrats complained that the measure would delay payment for most Americans, but the final product featured a printed signature, not an individual, written signature, ensuring the checks went out on time.
Mnuchin took credit for the move in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper: “That was my idea,” he said. “I think it’s a terrific symbol to the American public.”
Now, likely concerned that President Trump got too much credit for the CARES act, which guaranteed the $1,200 in stimulus funds to individual, adult taxpayers and an addtional $500 for each child, Schumer is taking steps to prevent Trump’s name from appearing on any further cash handouts, according to Politico.
“The so-called ‘No PR Act,’” the outlet reports, “would prohibit the use of federal dollars toward any material that promotes the names or signatures of Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.”
“President Trump unfortunately appears to see the pandemic as just another opportunity to promote his own political interests,” Schumer said in a statement issued Monday. “The No PR Act puts an end to the president’s exploitation of taxpayer money for promotional material that only benefits his re-election campaign.”
“Delaying the release of stimulus checks so his signature could be added is a waste of time and money,” Schumer added, even though it is not clear there was any delay in issuing the initial checks.
Democrats and Republicans are likely headed for a clash over the “CARES Act 2,” as Pelosi has called it in interviews. Democrats are adamant that the fourth package will pass when Congress returns from its spring recess, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), says he’s pumping the breaks on any further spending bills, fearful that a second, trillion dollar-plus package could imperil the country’s economic recovery.
Republicans are also skeptical of Democrats’ plans to include a handout to state and local governments in the bill, particularly after an Illinois legislator suggested last week, in a letter leaked to the New York Times, that Illinois try to solve its long-standing, decades-old pension and debt crisis by asking for a full bailout from the Federal government. McConnell said, last week, that he’d favor states going bankrupt over accepting funds meant for coronavirus relief in order to address financial issues that long predate the virus.