Fact Check: Did Biden Promise to Sign an Executive Order on Stimulus Checks While Campaigning?

President Joe Biden got right to work Wednesday after his inauguration by signing more than a dozen executive orders.

According to the New York Times, Biden signed 17 executive orders, memorandums and proclamations on his first day in office. Such actions included requiring masks to be worn on all federal property and by all federal employees, preventing undocumented immigrants from being left out of the census count, stopping the construction of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and re-entering the Paris climate accord.

One of the issues Biden did not address with his executive actions is stimulus checks. There has been considerable debate about the size of individual stimulus checks over the past few months.

Is $600 for a second COVID check enough?

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 16, 2020

The first round of checks were approved in March for $1,200, while the second round of checks approved in December was for $600. The December approval received backlash from lawmakers and the American public.

Newsweek reported that Biden now is pushing for $1,400 stimulus checks, but some people are wondering why Biden can't sign an executive order sending out larger and faster checks.

The Claim

Twitter users have said that not only can Biden pass stimulus checks with an executive order, but that he promised to do so during his campaign.

The Facts

Newsweek reported that the president cannot sign an executive order for stimulus checks because Congress has the "Power of the Purse." According to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, only Congress can "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."

Because of this, stimulus checks must be approved by Congress, which is why former President Donald Trump did not sign an executive order for $2,000 checks even though he openly disagreed with members of his own party about the issue.

Under Biden's Emergency Action Plan To Save The Economy displayed on his campaign website, the only mention of stimulus checks is the following:

"This was a good start. But more must be done. Congress approved direct cash relief — $1,200 per person to help working families through this crisis. But it's a one-off. And Congress didn't include direct student loan forgiveness, or Social Security boosts for seniors, or cost-free treatment for COVID-19, full paid sick leave for our workers, or sufficient fiscal relief to states."

The website also said that, if elected, Biden would "provide for additional checks to families should conditions require."

Direct cash payments.
Extended unemployment.
Rent relief.
Food assistance.
Aid to small businesses.
Keeping essential frontline workers on the job.

Those are the key elements of my American Rescue Plan.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 15, 2021

During Biden's campaign, he mentioned stimulus checks on only a few occasions.

"We need to get those relief checks into the hands of folks as quickly as possible using direct deposits, prepaid debit cards, whenever we can, but here's what we know above all," Biden said during a virtual town hall on April 8. "The money and the plans that are in the Cares Act won't be enough the first time around. We're going to have to do more."

Newsweek reported in September that "both candidates have voiced support for a second one-time direct payment in recent months, but it does not appear to be an integral part of Biden's economic recovery plan for the country."

On December 4, after being officially declared the winner of the 2020 election, Biden delivered remarks recorded by C-SPAN regarding the November 2020 jobs report.

"I will issue executive orders that are totally within the purview of an executive," Biden said.

"One of the things I don't like—I don't like people saying that I can, by executive order, do the following things which there is no basis in the Constitution suggests that can be done. So there's certain things I can do. I can issue executive orders on pulling back some of the executive orders that Trump put forward, but I can't issue an executive order saying we are going to spend X billion dollars on this issue without...Congress appropriates and is responsible for distributing that money."

The Ruling

False.

There is no evidence that President Biden promised to sign an executive order regarding stimulus checks. Newsweek previously reported that it would be unconstitutional for individual stimulus checks to be sent out in an executive order.

joe, biden, executive, order, white, house
U.S. President Joe Biden signs a series of orders in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., after being sworn in at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images