There was some movement in the effort to pass another coronavirus relief bill in Congress as Donald Trump signaled his willingness to accept a higher dollar amount than the $1 trillion previously offered.
The Democrats in the House are getting antsy and want to see the speaker back at the negotiating table with Republicans. But for the moment, Pelosi is standing firm on her demand that the White House commit to a bill worth at least $2.2 trillion.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Republicans to embrace a larger coronavirus stimulus package as a top White House aide showed more optimism about striking a deal with Democrats.
In a tweet, the president told GOP lawmakers to “go for the much higher numbers” in legislation designed to boost an economy and health-care system struggling under the weight of the pandemic. Many Republicans have embraced limited relief — or backed no new spending at all — as the major parties struggle to break a stalemate over a fifth relief bill.
If Trump cracks the whip, GOP senators will fall in line. So right now it’s up to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats whether they really want to give relief to the millions who need it, or whether they just want to make Trump and Republicans the villains.
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Shortly after Trump tweeted, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that he is “probably more optimistic about the potential for a deal in the last 72 hours than I have been in the last 72 days.” The comment from Meadows, one of the two leading Trump administration negotiators in stimulus talks, followed the Tuesday release of a roughly $1.5 trillion aid proposal by the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.
Democratic House committee chairs rejected the proposal Tuesday as party leaders call to inject at least $2.2 trillion into the coronavirus fight. Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., again opposed a more limited relief proposal.
The “Problem Solvers Caucus” proposal might break the logjam between the parties. While there are points of agreement in the proposal, including another individual $1200 stimulus for taxpayers, extended unemployment benefits, and money to help the schools, aid from Washington to states is a non-starter for some Republicans and the $500 billion in the proposal is far too rich for Trump’s blood.
The GOP is arguing that the state aid in the first pandemic relief bill passed in April is still unspent and it’s impossible to know how much the federal government should send until it is. The Democrats want a trillion dollars to help bail out governors like Andrew Cuomo and J.B. Pritzker who want to use the cash to fix their broken pension systems.
If Trump can convince the Democrats to make the aid to states a separate bill — as he has told them before — that would clear a path for a deal. But Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership thinks that people who are hurting — especially the unemployed — will blame Trump not them for the lack of action.
On such petty calculations rides the fate of millions.