President Donald Trump hinted he might intervene if Republican senators oppose a multi-trillion dollar coronavirus relief package, according to a recent interview.
On Saturday, October 18, Trump expressed to Charles Benson of WTMJ4 Milwaukee that he is on board with passing another broad-based package before Election Day — despite his previous calls for standalone bills. He added that he would have no issue addressing any Republicans opposing the measure.
“I will take care of that problem in two minutes,” Trump said, slighting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push for a targeted plan.
Stimulus talks have yet again reached an impasse as legislators continue to debate over the bill’s overall price tag.
House Speaker Nancy 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.
McConnell, on the other hand, is refusing to consider a bill that high, according to The Washington Post. He announced on October 17 his chamber’s plan to vote on a roughly $500 billion targeted relief package for small business funding.
“Next week, Senate Republicans will move to break this logjam,” he said.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump Shifted the Blame From Opposing Senate Republicans to Pelosi
During his weekend interview with Benson, Trump shifted the blame from Senate Republicans to Pelosi for the stalled talks.
“If I had something that would be good, I think I could quickly convince the Republicans to do it,” he said. “They’re ready to do it, but Nancy Pelosi does not want to do it. I mean, I wish your governor would call up Nancy Pelosi and say, ‘Do it.’ She wants to hold it until after the election and I think it’s bad for the Democrats. But I’m ready, willing and able. If they sent a bill over, I am ready, willing and able. And I wanted a higher number than [Pelosi] wanted.”
The White House’s latest $1.8 trillion proposal was met with opposition on both sides. A handful of Senate Republicans slammed the bill as a costly “betrayal,” while Pelosi called for more funding, The Washington Post reported.
Trump also told Benson he would be willing to offer an amount even higher than Pelosi’s $2.2 trillion revised HEROES Act.
“I’d go higher than her number,” he said. “[COVID-19] was China’s fault. They caused this problem and they’re going to pay for this problem.”
Pelosi & Mnuchin Are Slated to Continue Talks on Monday, October 20
Pelosi and Mnuchin will continue their stimulus talks on Monday, October 19, following their 75-minute phone call over the weekend, according to the Treasury secretary’s spokeswoman Monica Crowley.
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, also noted on Twitter that, although the pair made progress on incorporating a comprehensive national testing plan, “additional differences” need to be addressed within the next 48 hours.
“While there was some encouraging news on testing, there remains work to do to ensure there is a comprehensive testing plan that includes contact tracing and additional measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color,” he tweeted on October 17.
So far, the two have reached a middle ground on certain measures — such as another round of $1,200 stimulus checks and additional funding for small businesses and the airline industry, The Washington Post reported.
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