Can Donald Trump Pass $2,000 Stimulus Checks by Executive Order?

President Donald Trump has used the power of the executive order for multiple reasons. In 2020 alone, Trump signed executive orders to invoke the Defense Production Act to expedite the manufacture of medical equipment during the coronavirus outbreak, increase protections of historical monuments during demonstrations and dictate a specific style of architecture for federal buildings. However, Trump has not used an executive order to mandate $2,000 direct payments to Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats have called for the latest economic stimulus bill to include $2,000 direct payments instead of the currently approved $600 stimulus checks. Many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle support the idea. Trump has publicly endorsed the concept and challenged lawmakers to approve the higher amount.

"$2000 ASAP!" Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

$2000 ASAP!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020

The reasoning for Trump's inaction on signing an executive order to provide the extra money to Americans is simple: he does not wield the authority.

Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, commonly known as the Spending Clause, grants Congress the authority "lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and the general welfare of the United States."

In other words, Congress holds the "Power of the Purse." Another round of stimulus checks would have to be approved by Congress and signed into law before being sent. Under the Constitution, Trump cannot sign an executive order that would send more stimulus payments to Americans.

Newsweek reached out to the House Committee on the Budget for comment.

could trump sign exec order stimulus checks
President Donald Trump has voiced strong support for $2,000 stimulus checks to be sent to eligible Americans, despite resistance from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Although a measure to increase the direct payments to $2,000 passed the House on Monday, the measure may never pass the Senate. House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to a standalone bill that would have authorized the larger checks, choosing to introduce a new proposal on Tuesday which tied the $2,000 direct payments to other issues that Democrats have disagreed with.

Along with the $2,000 stimulus checks, McConnell's proposal also includes a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which would take away legal protections from social media platforms that host material from third parties that could be deemed controversial. McConnell's proposed legislation also would create a commission to investigate Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud.

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized McConnell's decision to block the standalone vote on the $2,000 stimulus checks in a Wednesday press conference.

"These Republicans in the Senate seem to have an endless tolerance for other people's sadness," Pelosi said. "We urge Mitch McConnell to stop his obstruction and to bring that legislation to the Floor of the Senate. And we urge Republicans in the Senate to encourage him to do so."

McConnell has stood his ground against the legislation proposed by the Democrats, saying during Floor remarks that the bill had "no realistic path" to pass the Senate.

"The Senate is not going to be bullied into rushing out more borrowed money into the hands of Democrats' rich friends who don't need the help," McConnell said.