At a White House press briefing, President Donald Trump lent support to the new bipartisan proposal on coronavirus relief issued by the Problem Solvers Caucus. He specifically offered support for more stimulus check payments.
Trump made his comments on September 16, the same day that he posted a tweet calling Democrats “heartless” and saying, “they don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money.”
Negotiations on another stimulus package have been slow and stalled over the price tag of the bill, with Republicans wanting to keep it under $1.3 trillion and Democrats wanting the bill to be at least $2.2 trillion. The Problem Solvers Caucus proposal would cost up to $2 trillion, according to Axios.
Trump Showed Half-Hearted Support for the Bipartisan Proposal
During the briefing, Trump showed half-hearted support for the Problem Solvers Caucus’ “March to Common Ground COVID Stimulus Framework.” The framework, which was unveiled September 15, would include:
- Stimulus checks of $1,200.
- School and childcare aid of $145 billion.
- Election aid of $400 billion.
- Local and state government aid of $500 billion.
- Renewed $600 supplements to unemployment benefits.
- Triggers to boost the bill by $400 billion if COVID-19 metrics worsen or reduce the bill by $200 billion if metrics improve.
When asked by a reporter about whether he supported it, Trump said, “Yeah.” However, he backtracked moments later when asked if he endorsed the proposal, saying, “Well, not that proposal, but we’re getting closer. We’re getting closer.”
Trump also said that he “like(s) the larger amount” even if some Republicans disagree. Here’s what else Trump had to say about the proposal:
So the Problem Solvers came up with — it’s a group of people in Congress, as you know. You know them all. I know them all. They’re very good people. I guess you’d consider them dead center. But in many cases, they’re not. They’re left. They’re right. But they came up with this idea, and I think they’re well on their way to suggesting some pretty good things.
Now, I heard Nancy Pelosi said she doesn’t want to leave until we have an agreement. She’s come a long way. That’s great. If she said that, she’s come a long way. I agree with her. We should have an agreement. People should be helped, and they should be helped as rapidly as possible. And I think it’s going to happen. I think it’s very important.
Ultimately, Trump said, “I agree with a lot of (the proposal).” He seemed hesitant, though, to support some portions, such as the $500 billion for state and local governments. However, Trump said there was room for negotiation and that he thought the proposal was a “positive” development.
Trump Says, ‘I Want to See People Get Money’
Trump has long supported providing stimulus check payments to Americans, as Vice President Mike Pence reported in early September.
Trump even floated the idea of using the $300 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Trump said it would be “very appropriate” for Congress to allow him to use the funds, saying, “Now, we have $300 billion in an account that we didn’t use and I would be willing to … release that money and send it to the American people.”
During his White House press briefing on September 16, “I want to see people get money,” Trump said. “I want to see — it wasn’t their fault that this happened. It was China’s fault, you know? … So I’d like to see the larger number. Yeah, I would like to see it. There are some things I disagree with, but I’m sure they can be negotiated.”
“It would be a very appropriate thing to release that to the American people and all we need is the sign-off,” he added. Pelosi, with whom Republicans have been negotiating for months, said in a CNN interview on September 11 that she would not agree to a deal on stimulus checks if it doesn’t also include food and housing security.
During negotiations, members of both parties have expressed some optimism. Pelosi told CNN, “I’m optimistic. I do think we should have an agreement, that’s what we all want.” One of the Republican negotiators, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, also told Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, “I’m more optimistic today than I have been in a long time.”