Trump endorsed aid to the airline industry and small businesses and $1,200 stimulus payments. Missing was any support for extra federal unemployment insurance payments or aid to state and local governments, a non-negotiable demand of congressional Democrats.
Trump’s latest statement came after he tweeted out Tuesday that he was ending negotiations over the Democratic demand to help states and localities pay the salaries of police officers, firefighters, school teachers, health care workers and other public employees.
It came in the final month of a presidential campaign where Trump is trailing Joe Biden. A CNN poll of likely voters released Tuesday gave Biden 57% and Trump 41%.
Shortly before that Tuesday comment, Trump’s Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, called for another round of coronavirus stimulus spending. “The expansion is still far from complete,” Powell told the National Association for Business Economics.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, suggested Wednesday that Trump was now responding to criticism for jettisoning the negotiations.
“He was trying to grovel his way back, throwing some offers out there where he would agree,” Gottheimer said Wednesday at a meeting of the Star-Ledger editorial board. “That’s not how a negotiation works. You can’t just decide to lob in some tweets and hope that’s what we’re going to agree to.”
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Trump was “rebounding from a terrible mistake.”
“It’s hard to see any clear sane path on what he’s doing but the fact is he saw the political downside of his statement of walking away from the negotiations,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday on ABC’s “The View.” “But I will say this, it is really important for us to come to this agreement.”
The House sought a $2.2 trillion bill that included $1,200 stimulus checks, $600 in extra weekly federal unemployment insurance payments through Jan. 31, more paycheck protection program funds for small businesses, money for the Postal Service, $75 billion for testing and contact tracing, and a one-year suspension of the GOP tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes.
The White House had offered $1.6 trillion.
“The two sides were really close,” said Gottheimer, D-5th Dist. “They were basically within inches.”
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked Wednesday about a separate bill to bail out airlines, which are poised to lay off thousands of employees without immediate federal aid.
A bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus stimulus proposal helped restart negotiations over new stimulus legislation, and Gottheimer said Republican members of the group were pushing Senate Republicans and White House officials to resume talks.
So, too, were business organizations that usually side with Republicans.
“The pandemic isn’t over and neither is the economic crisis it has created,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the National Retail Federation. “We need further stimulus to ensure we can fix an ailing economy, bring people back to work and spur growth in communities large and small.”
“Small businesses are in danger of closing for good if they don’t get additional financial assistance,” said Holly Wade, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business Research Center. “Owners are trying to reduce costs and adjust business operations to keep their doors open, but for many, that’s not enough.”
A Trump ally, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., touted the Problem Solvers proposal on Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported that Trump blew up the talks after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told him that any deal with Democrats would not have broad support among Senate Republicans.
McConnell blamed Democrats for the impasse because they opposed a GOP-drafted $500 billion stimulus bill.
That legislation provided taxpayer subsidies for religious and other private schools and protected businesses from lawsuits if their customers or employees were injured, but did not include new stimulus payments or state and local aid and limited federal unemployment benefits to $300 per week.
“They didn’t want to get a deal this soon,” McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Fox News Channel. “We will reengage after the election, as the president said. I think we do need another rescue package but because of the pending election we simply weren’t able to get together.”
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