President-elect Joe Biden says coronavirus relief talks are stalling because of Republicans’ fear of “retribution” from the president.
In a virtual event with frontline healthcare workers on Wednesday, November 18, Biden said GOP lawmakers have been hindered from compromising with Democrats on injecting more state and local government aid through a broad-based package.
He cited their concern over potential fallout with President Donald Trump.
“Hopefully, when he’s gone, they’ll be more willing to do what they know should be done, has to be done, in order to save the communities they live in,” Biden said.
Relief talks have yet again reached an impasse as lawmakers continue to argue over the overall cost of the next bill. Democrats are seeking substantial state and local government funding, while Republicans are pushing for employer liability shields, according to a late-October story in the Chicago Tribune.
The White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been discussing a package between $1.8 trillion and $2.2 trillion, but the talks fell apart leading up to the November 3 election, Business Insider reported. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now heading up an effort for a smaller, Senate-backed stimulus proposal as the administration steps back from negotiations, the outlet continued.
Here’s what you need to know:
Biden Expressed Optimism That Republicans Would Likely Compromise on State & Local Aid After Trump Leaves Office
Biden during the November 18 virtual event implied that a deal for a stimulus package most likely won’t be reached until next year.
However, he “expressed optimism that Republicans in Congress would address his party’s calls for state and local funding when Trump leaves office,” Newsweek reported.
The president-elect cites economic recovery as one of his “Day One” priorities on the Biden-Harris transition website.
Biden’s plan promises to provide extra funding for state, local and tribal governments, extend “COVID crisis unemployment insurance to help those who are out of work” and create jobs through a Public Health Job Corps, among other measures, according to the website.
It does not directly mention stimulus checks.
Trump Sent Mixed Signals by Calling for a ‘Big & Focused Bill’
On November 14, Trump sent mixed signals regarding his stimulus stance.
The president took to Twitter to urge lawmakers to approve a “big and focused” package with Democrat support.
“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” he tweeted. “Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”
According to WGN, Trump invoked “two terms that have largely been contradictory during the negotiation process.”
The president’s call for a “big” bill could be interpreted as including another round of direct stimulus checks, according to WGN. “Prior to the election, the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed any approved package would include stimulus checks,” WGN said.
Democrats have pushed for a big-ticket plan that features new federal unemployment benefits, another round of $1,200 payments and additional state and local government aid, the outlet noted.
The word “targeted,” though, falls in line with McConnell’s recent opinions on stimulus, WGN explained.
The Senate majority leader on November 11 argued that a massive stimulus bill is not necessary to reboot the economy, claiming its recovery has been “stronger and faster than anyone predicted.”