President Donald Trump said Congress should authorize sending taxpayers checks from about $300 billion left over in a pandemic lending program.
“We have $300 billion sitting in an account that we didn’t need,” Trump said at a news conference on Friday. “It would be a very appropriate thing to release that to the American people and I am willing to do it.”
Trump wasn’t able to say where the $300 billion came from. A White House official later said it was part of a more than $450 billion fund Congress established at the Treasury Department to support emergency lending programs created by the Federal Reserve to combat economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
There hasn’t been as much demand for the Fed’s emergency pandemic programs, particularly its Main Street program for small- and medium-sized businesses. The Congressional Oversight Commission, a panel that oversees Treasury and Federal Reserve responses to the pandemic, reported last month that lenders had issued loans using only about $472 million of more than $600 billion available under the Main Street program.
About half of the Treasury fund has been committed to support the Fed’s programs.
“We have $300 billion, it’s there, we don’t need the money, we don’t need anything,” Trump said. “I could give it to the people as a very powerful stimulus.”
He added that “there’s a theory” he could issue the money without congressional approval, but that he would like lawmakers to approve it.