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Trump Blindsides Congress With ‘Surprise’ COVID Statement

By Audrey Conklin October 21th, 2020 | Image Source: Fox News

President Trump called on Congress in a series of tweets to pass additional coronavirus relief measures, reversing course from hours earlier when he announced he was calling off negotiations until after the November election.

“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!” Trump wrote.

“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” he tweeted less than 30 minutes later.

Trump reiterated his openness to sending a fresh round of $1,200 checks on Wednesday morning, calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “move fast.”

“Move Fast, I Am Waiting To Sign!” he tweeted.

Democrats have largely resisted efforts to pass piecemeal relief legislation.

Trump’s renewed push for another round of fiscal stimulus came just hours after he abruptly pulled the plug on negotiations, jolting Wall Street and sending stocks tumbling.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill,” Trump tweeted.

The tweet appeared to end the months-long efforts between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — who spoke for an hour on Monday and briefly on Tuesday — to strike a deal. During the Tuesday call, Mnuchin confirmed that Trump had called off negotiations, according to a tweet from Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill. Pelosi “expressed her disappointment in the president’s decision,” Hammill said.

Mnuchin and Pelosi spoke again on Wednesday morning, during which the secretary inquired about a bailout for the airline industry, according to Hammill.

“The Speaker reminded him that Republicans blocked that bill on Friday & asked him to review the DeFazio bill so that they could have an informed conversation,” he tweeted.

Last week, U.S. airlines began cutting 35,000 jobs following the expiration of a $25 billion bailout fund that was created earlier this year as part of the CARES Act. Under the terms of the agreement, airlines were prohibited from cutting jobs or reducing workers’ pay through Sept. 30.

Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy’s recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it. House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion aid package last week, down from the initial $3.4 trillion offer, while the Trump administration countered with a $1.6 trillion plan. Pelosi rejected that as “inadequate.”

A key sticking point in negotiations is aid for state and local governments, which Trump and Republicans have characterized as a “blue-state bailout.” The president reiterated that on Tuesday, saying Democrats “just wanted to take care of Democrat failed, high crime, Cities and States. They were never in it to help the workers, and they never will be!”

Instead, the president said that he had asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “focus full time” on confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

McConnell said he supported Trump’s decision to postpone negotiations.

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

Democrats were quick to slam Trump’s decision to call off the relief talks.

“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 … matters to him,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said.

Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.

But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic — like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits — lapsed weeks ago.

Democratic leaders have accused Republicans of underestimating the severity of the crisis, while Republicans accused Democrats of using the legislation as a way of passing their “liberal wishlist” while ignoring the nation’s ballooning deficit, which is projected to hit a record-shattering $3.3 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Still, other Republicans, including those facing competitive re-election battles, have voiced their support for additional relief.

“Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next COVID-19 relief package is a huge mistake,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Trump’s announcement came just hours after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell urged lawmakers to provide the pandemic-stricken economy with more fiscal support in order to sustain the nation’s early recovery.

“Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste,” Powell said Tuesday in a prepared speech to the National Association for Business Economics. “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.”

But the recovery has moderated in recent months, he said, and there is a risk the rapid initial gains may transition to a “longer-than-expected slog back to full recovery as some segments struggle with the pandemic’s continued fallout.”

A new report released by the Labor Department last week showed the economy added 661,000 jobs last month and the jobless rate fell to 7.9%, indicating the labor market’s recovery is beginning to plateau.

There are still roughly 10.7 million more out-of-work Americans than there were in February before the pandemic hit.

Author: Megan Henney

Source: Fox News: Trump urges Congress to pass more coronavirus aid hours after breaking off negotiations

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