With pressure mounting to pass another round of coronavirus relief before the November election, President Donald Trump says he has authorized his Treasury secretary to propose a larger package.
Trump announced on October 15 during a Fox Business interview that he told Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to offer more to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi than the administration’s previous $1.8 trillion bill.
The comments mark a stark shift in stance from the president’s earlier calls for standalone bills. They also directly clash with his party’s desire for cheaper legislation.
“I’ve told him,” Trump explained of Mnuchin to Fox Business’ Stuart Varney. “So far, he hasn’t come home with the bacon.”
The White House’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal — which includes $300 billion for state and local funding and maintains $400 weekly extended federal unemployment benefits — was met with criticism on both sides.
Republicans blasted the proposal as being too “costly,” while Pelosi pushed for more money for unemployment insurance, state and local aid and a comprehensive national testing plan, among other Democratic priorities.
The legislative window to pass another round of relief before Election Day is closing, according to The Washington Post.
“Congress has not passed legislation since April to approve any new economic relief or health-care spending for the pandemic, and Democrats fear that if Trump loses the election he’ll be in no mood to bargain,” the newspaper said.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump’s Mnuchin Comments Contradict Republican Efforts to Blame Pelosi
Trump’s Mnuchin commentary directly contradicted his earlier claims from the interview that Pelosi was to blame for the stalled talks.
At the beginning of the interview, the president told Varney that the House speaker was “holding it up” and accused her of having “a lot of mental problems.”
He slammed Pelosi for refusing to budge on a package less than $2 trillion, rather than using leftover Paycheck Protection Program funds for targeted assistance instead.
Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also took aim at Pelosi on October 11 in a joint statement, echoing the president’s sentiments.
Democrats Blame Republicans for the Stalemate
Democrats are expressing a different viewpoint on stimulus. Pelosi has frequently argued that Republicans are trying to undercut Americans by offering insufficient legislation.
The Post 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 said Wednesday night 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.”
In an October 13 press release, Pelosi highlighted why she believes the White House’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal was “one step forward, two steps back.”
She criticized the package’s lack in state and local government funding. She also argued that a national testing and tracing plan should be included.
McConnell Is Separating From Trump, Pushing for a $500 Billion Standalone Bill
Trump’s recent calls for a “big” stimulus package have separated him from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell has recently been vocal about passing a more piecemeal bill. He recently expressed at a Kentucky appearance that Trump is pushing for a bill “much higher” than he can “sell,” CNN reported.
The Senate majority leader announced Tuesday, October 13, that the chamber will vote next week on a roughly $500 billion “targeted” plan, including additional funds for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.