Trump Administration Shows Willingness for More COVID-19 Relief Spending

May 24, 2020 Updated: May 24, 2020

President Donald Trump and top White House advisers appear to be warming to the idea of supporting a new round of COVID-19 relief spending as the fallout from the shutdowns continues to spread.

“I think we’re going to be helping people out” and “getting some money for them,” the president said last week as nearly 40 million Americans have now claimed unemployment benefits, and also as businesses attempt to survive with health restrictions in place around the United States.

Trump told reporters on May 21 that “there could be one more nice shot,” passing another relief package. The last one, the CARES Act, which was passed and signed into law in March, provided up to $1,200 for eligible individuals, gave relief to small business owners, expanded unemployment benefits, and more.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said that he sees a “strong likelihood” that another stimulus package will be needed.

House Democrats have sought an immediate, sweeping plan to provide more funding to individuals, expand the safety net during the outbreak, and allow for vote-by-mail. While the House passed the measure, top GOP leaders in the Senate have said it will be “dead on arrival” and won’t pass. They argued that the package, called the HEROES Act, contains too many unnecessary additions not explicitly related to pandemic relief.

President Trump Holds News Conference On Paycheck Protection Program
President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka listen as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during an event on supporting small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program in the East Room of the White House on April 28, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

At the same time, Trump, Mnuchin, other White House officials, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have expressed a desire to wait and see if the U.S. economy can rebound after suffering weeks of losses before trying to pass a new stimulus bill.

Democrats also want $1 trillion purportedly to help state and local governments deal with budget shortfalls suffered during the CCP virus crisis. Some Republicans have said the figure is too high, and Trump has showed reluctance to bail out municipal and state governments from preexisting administrative problems.

One issue that has been contentious between the two parties is unemployment insurance. Democrats have sought to allow expanded federal unemployment insurance to continue into next year, while Republicans have strongly opposed the measure.

Such benefits, which include $600 extra per week, won’t be in a future stimulus bill, McConnell told other Republicans last week.

The GOP is “going to have to clean up the Democrats’ crazy policy that is paying people more to remain unemployed than they would earn if they went back to work,” McConnell said.

Talks between the White House and Congress have stalled, according to some reports. The House plans to return to work for part of this week, while the Senate is slated to reconvene on June 1.