With the clock ticking to pass a second coronavirus stimulus package before the November election, President Donald Trump is remaining firm on opposing Democrats’ demands to inject more funding into state and local governments, according to a White House economic adviser.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow on Saturday, October 24, offered his opinions on stimulus talks during an interview with Fox Business. Although he cited progress on certain measures, he indicated that there are still some “major policy differences” between the administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“There are still significant policy differences between the two sides,” Kudlow told Maria Bartiromo during Mornings with Maria. “We’ve bridged some gaps; we’re probably closer than we were a week or two back. But there are still major policy differences.”
One of those differences is state and local government funding, he continued.
Kudlow expressed that the president is strongly against including in the bill more state and local aid for “poorly run” Democratic jurisdictions.
“The president has said time and time again that he is not going to bail out poorly managed cities, states and their pension funds,” Kudlow told Bartiromo. “That’s not part of this. … That has nothing to do with COVID and has nothing to do with getting the economy moving.”
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been discussing a package in the range of $1.8 trillion to $2.2 trillion, including extended unemployment benefits and another round of stimulus checks, The Washington Post reported.
The economic adviser reiterated his claims that targeted assistance should be prioritized over passing a broad-based package.
“My view has always been that we want to have certain targeted assistance areas,” Kudlow told Fox Business, citing Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses and additional assistance for unemployment benefits and airlines.
“There’s no reason why we have to have this humongous bill which covers so much ground other than the economy and COVID,” he continued. “In other words, there’s an ideological and political debate agenda on the other side.”
The Senate is slated to leave town on Monday, October 26, after a confirmation vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, according to the Chicago Tribune. The House is already on break.
Legislators in both chambers could be summoned to vote within 24 hours notice should an agreement be reached, the newspaper continued.
Here’s what you need to know:
State & Local Government Funding Has Been a Sticking Point Between Negotiators
Negotiators have been divided over the same sticking points for months, including Democrats’ calls for substantial state and local government funding and Republicans’ desires for employer liability shields, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday, October 21, to slam Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for stalling negotiations over state and local government aid for “poorly run” Democratic jurisdictions.
“Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus. Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states….” he wrote.
“Should take care of our people. It wasn’t their fault that the Plague came in from China!”
Meanwhile, Pelosi has expressed that Republicans are trying to shortchange the American people by not offering enough relief.
“We can’t have a deal that goes backward,” Pelosi said recently, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that Pelosi believes the Republican proposals will hurt “underprivileged” people.
“This is about a pandemic in case you haven’t noticed. This is about a pandemic where we are trying to compensate the states for the money that they spent on the pandemic and the revenue that they lost,” Pelosi previously said on MSNBC, according to The Post.
“That’s one thing that the president, they’ve all just ignored. The president said, ‘I’m not paying blue states,’ all that stuff. They haven’t taken this seriously.”
Pelosi & Mnuchin Will Continue Talks After Committees Involved in Stimulus Legislation Make ‘Additional Progress’
Pelosi and Mnuchin have been meeting frequently over the last two weeks to continue to “narrow their differences” on stimulus measures, according to Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill.
On Friday, October 21, he tweeted that the members of stimulus committees were slated to work through the weekend. Hammill added that Pelosi and Mnuchin will again negotiate “once additional progress is made.”
Pelosi that same day said she and the Treasury secretary are waiting for the congressional committees to “report back on lower-level talks before having another call,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Aides to the relevant committees say that there is little they can do until they get clearer guidance from Pelosi and Mnuchin, however,” the newspaper added.
Legislators Are Worried Trump Would Be ‘Less Inclined’ to Push a Package Through the GOP Senate After the Election
The Chicago Tribune stated that holding off on stimulus legislation until after the November election “raises the risk that the Trump administration will be less inclined or able to push a package through the GOP Senate.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who criticized Democrats for using what he called an “all-or-nothing approach” — has expressed he cannot sell the administration’s $1.8 trillion proposal to his members, according to CNN.
The risk for inaction would double if Trump loses his bid to Democratic hopeful Joe Biden and Republicans lose their Senate majority, the Chicago Tribune continued.
Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut echoed these claims to Yahoo Finance on October 22. Murphy expressed concern that Republican lawmakers may not be “motivated to support a bill during a lame-duck session,” the outlet reported.