An unprecedented effort by the federal government to shield Americans from the worst economic blows of the global pandemic was hailed as a bipartisan triumph when it passed Congress nearly unanimously. That’s why it’s all the more disappointing that one of the few safeguards built into the $2.2 trillion rescue bill — oversight of a $500 billion fund meant to help industries and businesses — is being rejected by President Donald Trump.
It’s regrettable, but not surprising. Trump operates the presidency with a strong authoritarian streak. His administration shows little concern for transparency. That is at odds with a system of government based on checks and balances.
Congress has the constitutional power of the purse, and it should not be expected to surrender enormous amounts of money to the executive branch with little accountability.
Passage of the recovery bill was a rare and welcome act of strong bipartisanship in a deeply polarized Congress. That ability to come together will be needed even more in the months to come. We are not yet at the peak for the pandemic in this country, and already it is clear that the $2.2 trillion bill will fall short. It is critical that the president not squander that fragile coalition by foolishly insisting that he is above scrutiny.