UPDATE: President Trump undermined his own party’s coronavirus stimulus position with a Tuesday night video calling for $2,000 in direct payments, far more than Republicans had been asking for.
In a video posted to Twitter, Trump called the $600 direct payments agreed to over the weekend by congressional leadership “ridiculously low” and the 5,593-page bill a “disgrace.”
Trump has been almost entirely absent from the congressional negotiations, as he has focused on attempting to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election.
While both chambers passed the bill with margins that would override a potential veto — which Trump did not specifically threaten but certainly implied in the four-minute address — a delay could result in the government shutting down due to lack of funding and millions of Americans losing their unemployment payments and homes due to looming deadlines.
After Trump suggested the payments of $2,000 — a large increase from the $600 put forth by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier this month — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quickly jumped at the opportunity to increase the $900 billion relief bill.
“Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks,” the Democratic leader posted to Twitter after Trump’s message, sharing his video with her own followers. “At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!”
Will the White House ever agree on an economic rescue plan? The pandemic has caused so much loss and Americans are in need of help.
Lawmakers are running out of time to pass another coronavirus relief package before Congress adjourns for the holidays. A major point of contention is whether any package will include a second round of stimulus checks, the direct cash payments that helped millions of households weather the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The current negotiations are based on a $908 billion proposal from a bipartisan coalition of senators. But because that package included $160 billion in aid for struggling state and local governments, which Republicans objected to, as well as a liability shield for businesses, which Democrats opposed, the group split the proposal into two bills — essentially carving out the controversial issues into a smaller, separate package that can be argued over at another time.
Instead, the first bill would consist of a $748 billion measure, expected to include additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program and unemployment insurance, among other programs.
Holding off on $160 billion in funding for state and local governments may be the key to finding support for another round of stimulus payments, Raymond James said.
“The cost of the CARES Act direct payments was approximately $300 billion; cutting the checks in half would come in at $150 billion,” the analysts wrote. “Swapping the $150 billion in direct payments for the $160 billion in state and local aid would create an overall bill in the $900 billion range that is being reported.”