Trump Wants Greater Than $500 Billion Stimulus Bill, McEnany Says

Pelosi, Schumer say they're 'encouraged' by Trump call
September 16, 2020 Updated: September 16, 2020

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President Donald Trump wants a COVID-19 relief bill worth more than $500 billion and also wants direct stimulus payments to Americans.

Trump “absolutely wants to get a stimulus deal done,” she told reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, the president called on the GOP to try and pass a broader stimulus measure, coming about a week after the GOP-controlled Senate failed to advance a “skinny” bill.

McEnany clarified that Trump was referring to the GOP bill “that didn’t include direct payments and he’s very keen to see these direct payments.”

“We hope Nancy Pelosi will work with us in good faith. There are many bipartisan proposals out there that have merit,” she said.

Trump’s call earlier in the day drew praise from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who released a joint statement.

“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” Pelosi and Schumer said.

“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation,” the top Democrats added.

After the statement, it still is not clear when White House negotiators will meet with Schumer and Pelosi

Trump said that Democrats did not support sending out more $1,200 stimulus payments. However, top Democrats have expressed a willingness to include them, although it’s not exactly clear what the president meant.

Americans “desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China,” Trump wrote. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”

Over the past month, the White House and Democrats have not been able to reach an agreement on another stimulus package. The primary sticking point has been whether to provide federal funding to cities and states.

House Democrats in May passed a $3 trillion bill called the HEROES Act that would include new $1,200 stimulus checks. The measure never became law after the White House and Senate Republicans rejected numerous other provisions in the bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) describing it as a “socialist manifesto” in July.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) told the Washington Post on Wednesday that based on Trump’s Twitter post, “I assume he wants to make a deal.”

“I’m not sure what higher numbers, what that means. That probably needs to get translated for us,” Thune added. “But I know kind of what the threshold is for what we can get Republican votes for in the Senate, and I think if the number gets too high anything that got passed in the Senate would be passed mostly with Democrat votes and a handful of Republicans, so it’s going to have to stay in sort of a realistic range.”