President Donald Trump on Tuesday made another appeal to Republican lawmakers to support an economic relief package greater than the $2.2 trillion that was proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said Tuesday would be the final day to come to an agreement before the election.
“It’s very simple. I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats,” Trump told Fox News on Tuesday. “Now, not every Republican agrees with me, but they will … I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats, because this is money going to people that did not deserve what happened to them coming out of China.”
He is referring to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 that triggered widespread business shutdowns this year, leading to significant job losses.
“We want to do it but Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to do it. We’ll see whether or not she changes her mind,” he added. “They are talking. Let’s see what happens. But I would rather go bigger than her number.”
For weeks, Trump has called on Congress to “go big or go home” and has pushed for $1,200 direct payments to Americans. The last major pandemic relief measure was in March when Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which authorized the stimulus payments as well as other measures such as small business loans, expanded unemployment insurance, and other items.
But over the weekend, Pelosi gave a 48-hour deadline to come to an agreement, although it’s not clear what would happen if the deadline passes with no deal.
“Where we have agreement, we don’t have agreement in the language yet, but I’m hopeful,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “The difference amounts to this, if you think of it this simple way: When you say ‘may,’ you’re giving the president a slush fund,” she said. “He may do this, he may grant, he may withhold.”
Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, wrote on Twitter on Monday evening that Pelosi and Treasury Steven Mnuchin spoke for about one hour as “they continued to narrow their differences.”
“The Speaker has tasked committee chairs to reconcile differences with their GOP counterparts on key areas,” he added. “The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election. The two principals will speak again tomorrow and staff work will continue around the clock.”
Even if White House and Pelosi come to an agreement, it’s possible the Senate won’t pass the measure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he won’t support the White House’s deal, adding on Oct. 17 that the GOP will vote on a smaller $500 billion package next week.
This prompted Trump to tell a local news station he would be able to overcome the GOP’s differences.
But Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Monday that it would “be hard” to garner enough GOP support to pass a bill higher than $1.8 trillion. “Well, we’ll have to talk to Sen. Thune,” Trump told on Fox News on Tuesday when he was presented with Thune’s comments.
Regarding McConnell’s prediction, the president said specifically that he expected backing from the majority leader: “He’ll be on board if something comes.”
McConnell said the Senate also plans a vote on Wednesday on a $500 billion-plus Republican proposal to include unemployment benefits and aid to schools. It would provide people with $300 in federal weekly unemployment benefits, while the Democrats want to return to the $600 weekly level in a measure approved earlier this year.
Reuters contributed to this report.