- President Donald Trump appeared to change course Tuesday and called on Congress to pass standalone coronavirus spending bills – hours after ending negotiations with Democrats for comprehensive relief legislation.
- He urged lawmakers to approve measures for $US1,200 relief payments, small-business aid, and direct assistance to prevent airline layoffs.
- He said he would immediately sign such bills, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats have rejected previous Republican attempts to pass standalone bills.
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Only hours after unexpectedly ending negotiations on another federal coronavirus rescue package, President Donald Trump on Tuesday night urged Congress to pass standalone bills on direct payments and assistance to airlines and small businesses â€” all measures that would most likely have been included in the larger piece of legislation that was being negotiated between the White House and Democrats.
Major US airlines are moving to layoff 32,000 workers in the coming weeks, along with other major companies like Disney. It has increased pressure on the administration to strike a deal with Democrats. In a series of late-night tweets, Trump called on both parties to support the provisions.
“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business,” he wrote on Twitter, adding he would “sign now.”
In another tweet posted less than half an hour later, Trump said he was ready to sign a separate piece of legislation to provide $US1,200 direct payments for American taxpayers.
“I am ready to sign right now,” he wrote. “Are you listening Nancy?”
The president tagged the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Trump’s tweets are a striking shift from earlier Tuesday. The president abruptly announced that he ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cease negotiating with Pelosi on a federal aid package and said a large bill would come after the US election.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
The two sides were $US700 billion apart in their aid proposals, with House Democrats recently passing a $US2.2 trillion spending package, a slimmed-down version of another plan they approved in May.
Democrats have long insisted on a broad spending package to deal with every facet of the public health and economic crises the pandemic has caused. Pelosi and top Democrats previously rejected Republican attempts to pass standalone bills during previous relief negotiations in late July and early August that ultimately collapsed.
But Pelosi has indicated Congress could step in to aid the airlines with a separate bill to extend the Payroll Support Program another six months and stave off layoffs.
Many economists say additional federal spending is needed to prop up the economy. Job growth is slowing sharply and permanent job losses continue to increase. Nearly 26.5 million Americans are on unemployment benefits, and Trump did not mention any measures to keep them afloat in his tweets.
The president pulled the plug on the negotiations on the same day Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned in a speech of “tragic results” in the economy without additional government support.
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