Trump Halts COVID-19 Relief Bill Talks Until After Election
President Donald TrumpU.S. Congress

Trump Halts COVID-19 Relief Bill Talks Until After Election

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President Trump on Tuesday instructed his administration to stop negotiating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on future coronavirus stimulus relief package until after the November election.

In a series of four tweets, Trump called out Pelosi for not “negotiating in good faith” by wanting a $2.4 Trillion stimulus package that focuses on funding issues that are not COVID related such as “bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States.”

“Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bail out poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19. We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith,” Trump said in one tweet.

“I am rejected 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,” Trump continued in the next tweet.

Trump added that he instructed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to “focus full time” on approving his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett as her confirmation hearing is set to begin next Monday.

“I have asked 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,” the final tweet reads. “Our Economy is doing very well. The Stock Market is at record levels, JOBS and unemployment also coming back in record numbers. We are leading the World in Economic Recovery, and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”

The tweet from Trump came after having a conference call with top Republican Congressional leaders — McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Mnuchin regarding the status of the talks with Pelosi on a $1.6 trillion relief bill offer. The House Speaker rejected the White House newly proposed stimulus legislation offer and continued to play hardball on several key provisions, especially on aid funding for state and local governments.

The House Speaker for months refused to back off on one part of talks that she and Republicans couldn’t agree on to move forward in reaching an agreement and possibly a relief package. The one area Pelosi was seeking that Republicans rejected was having the stimulus package provide $430 billion for bailout funds to be given to Democratic states facing budget deficits prior to the pandemic. 

Since July, Pelosi along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was in ongoing talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of Staff Mark Meadows as they attempted to negotiate a bipartisan fifth coronavirus relief package. The talks between Democrats and the White House led to a stalemate as certain parts of the CARES Act that were passed in March expired, including enhanced unemployment benefits, halting federal evictions, and emergency loans to small businesses.

With no agreement after the certain relief provisions expired, Trump took matters into his own hand in August by asserting his executive power in signing four orders on coronavirus relief. The four actions focused on providing $400 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits, deferring student loan payments, a memorandum on a payroll tax that defers the employee portion of payroll taxes of 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare for workers making less than $100,000 a year through the rest of 2020, and an executive order on “assistance to renters and homeowners.”

Pelosi slammed the move from Trump, accusing the president of “putting himself first” by asserting that he is focusing more on the elections at the “expense of the country.”

“Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus, as is required by the Heroes Act.  He shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes — in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers, and others and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check,” Pelosi said in a statement. 

The Speaker added that the White House “is in complete disarray” and cited Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell remarks he made to the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) Tuesday morning where he warned congress if they fail to provide additional emergency relief would lead to a long term economic decline and a weak recovery.

“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth,” Powell said. “Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste. The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side to provide support to the economy until it is clearly out of the woods.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also pounced on Trump announcement, attacking his rival in a statement for worrying more about securing the Supreme Court nomination than helping to secure a deal for the American people.

“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden said. “There will be no help from Washington for the foreseeable future. Instead, he wants the Senate to use it’s time to confirm his Supreme Court Justice nominee before the election, in a mad dash to make sure that the Court takes away your health care coverage as quickly as possible.”

McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill after the call that he supports the president’s decision to halt talks

“I think his view was that they were not going to produce a result, and we needed to concentrate on what’s achievable,” McConnell said.

Stocks dropped sharply after Trump tweet announcement with all three indexes losing all the gains made prior that caused them to fall into negative territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed after gaining about 200 points with a loss of 375 points, roughly 1.3 percent, while the S&P 500 closed with a loss of 1.4 percent, and the Nasdaq composite closed down roughly 1.6 percent.  

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Mona Salama