Trump says he has the power to block provision of stimulus that informs Congress where the corporate bailouts go
US President Donald Trump holds a press conference on COVID-19 in the Rose Garden of the White House on March 13, 2020. AFP / SAUL LOEB

The passage of the $2 trillion stimulus bill to give Americans relief from coronavirus was good news for millions of people. But President Donald Trump is already laying the groundwork to ignore provisions of it that impose congressional oversight.

In a signing statement, Trump said that he intends to ignore the provision of the bill that requires the newly-created Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to report to Congress "without delay" when any other agencies in his administration refuse to provide information about how the money is being spent.

"I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3," wrote Trump. In other words, he is granting himself authority to block the inspector general from reporting inter-agency obstruction to Congress — even though the bill does not provide for allowing him to do so.

Trump also wrote that he will not follow requirements laid out in the legislation to consult congressional committees before reallocating funds or hiring people to the newly-created Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

The original draft of the bill in the Senate raised alarms because there were virtually no restrictions on the $500 billion allocated to the Treasury Department for corporate bailouts. The final version signed into law today did include a number of provisions for oversight — but Trump is signaling that he is prepared to ignore many of them.