CORONAVIRUS

Stimulus check: why do Pelosi and Senate GOP oppose Trump's $1.8tn proposal?

Nancy Pelosi and Republicans recoiled at President Trump's $1.8tn stimulus offer, making it almost certain Congress won't pass a bill before election day.

Stimulus check: why do Pelosi and Senate GOP oppose Trump's $1.8 trillion proposal?
ERIN SCOTT REUTERS

In a letter on Saturday to House Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the latest deal placed on the table by the White House "insufficient" adding that it "amounted to one step forward, two steps back" in talks, highlighting that there are several major policy issues remaining to be solved.

"At this point, we still have disagreement on many priorities, and Democrats are awaiting language from the Administration on several provisions as the negotiations on the overall funding amount continue," Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi has consistently maintained that the actual legislative language and thus where that language directs the funds, has become a central aspect of any deal, pushing particularly for funding for states and localities that have significant budget shortfalls. This continues to be a key sticking point for the Trump administration.

Pelosi discarded Trump's proposal for demanding "more money at his discretion to grant or withhold, rather than agreeing on language prescribing how we honor our workers, crush the virus and put money in the pockets of workers." The speaker said "despite these unaddressed concerns" she remains "hopeful" that Friday's negotiations will bring them closer to a deal on a stimulus package.

Senate Republicans: “no appetite” for price tag so high

In a conference call Saturday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Senate Republicans dashed the $1.8 trillion offer the White House made to Speaker Pelosi, reported CNN.

According to sources, they went through a number of GOP concerns, like state and local funding, as well as the overall price tag.

There are mounting concerns in the GOP Senate that the latest offer from rump could serve to damage the base as well as the senate majority so close to an election.

A week of twists and turns: Trump’s u-turn

Trump weighs in on talks, contradicts himself

On Friday, Donald Trump signed off on the $1.8 trillion counter offer presented to Pelosi, the highest figure yet to be put forward by Republicans but still significantly lower than the $2.2 tn bill passed in the House by Democrats last week. It is widely understood that that Pelosi is unwilling to agree to anything below $2 trillion.

Then in a theatrical twist Friday afternoon, Trump contradicted his own latest offer to Pelosi, which remains far below the Speaker’s demands when he said, while being interviewed on ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’, "I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering," continuing that he's "going in the exact opposite now…maybe it helps or maybe it hurts negotiations."

The sentiment was echoed by the president on Twitter.

This news came just days after Trump flip-flopped, first aggressively shutting down talks completely, before abruptly doing a 180 and reopening them again.

McConnell: Supreme Court takes priority over stimulus

The fresh talks on the details of a bipartisan bill came on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cast significant doubt about the possibility that any deal could pass through Congress ahead of election day.

"The situation is kinda murky, and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election," McConnell told reporters at an event in Kentucky. "And everybody trying to elbow for political advantage. I'd like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April but I think that's unlikely in the next three weeks."

A week of contradictions for Trump

In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday, Republican President Trump said he had told his negotiators, Mnuchin and Meadows to walk away from stimulus talks with Democrats, adding that the GOP-held Senate’s pre-election focus should be on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court.

“[Democratic negotiator] Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19,” Trump said, in a tweet that misstates the price of Democrats’ most recent stimulus-bill proposal, which was actually $2.2tn. “We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith.

“I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business. I have asked [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell not to delay, but to instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.”

Trump’s decision to pull out of relief bill negotiations comes just three days after the president, who has been receiving treatment for covid-19 since last week, tweeted from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Federal Reserve Chair stresses need for economic relief

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged Congress this week to pass fresh stimulus, saying in a speech for the National Association for Business Economics: “Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses […]. By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.”

Pelosi: Trump in altered state

On Friday, Pelosi unveiled a new plan to invoke the 25th Amendment, expressing implicit concern for Trump's ability to carry out his duties as president, since contracting and being treated with a cocktail of drugs for covid-19.

"The President is, shall we say, in an altered state right now, so I don't know how to answer for his behavior," Pelosi said Thursday. She then went on to reference the law that dictates that a commander-in-chief can be temporarily replaced if incapacitated; saying that Trump is suffering a “disassociation from reality”.

Live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

You can follow live coverage of the covid-19 crisis in the US by reading our dedicated rolling feed.