The president urged Republicans to go big on the price tag of the next stimulus bill, while blaming Democrats for the stalemate on negotiations.
Democrats agreed with his first point.
“Go for the much higher numbers,” President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday. “Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”
He also said that Democrats don’t want to give more direct payments to Americans struggling financially from the pandemic. He then went further, encouraging his party to spend more on the next stimulus deal.
Democrats are “heartless”. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China. Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2020
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) — who have been leading the Democratic side of the negotiations — applauded the president’s remarks on increasing the price tag of the next aid package.
“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” they said in joint statement later on Wednesday.
The president’s remarks come after the latest Republican proposal — which was around $300 billion — was rejected in the Senate last week. Schumer called that proposal ‘emaciated’ and ‘completely inadequate.’ The proposal didn’t include stimulus checks, which the president urged for in his tweet.
‘Meet us halfway’
The Democratic plan passed in May — the HEROES Act — was initially worth over $3 trillion, but was later cut down to $2.2 trillion. Still, the two parties couldn’t reach an agreement.
“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their joint statement.
The White House was actively involved in the negotiations before Congress went into summer recess, represented by the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Meadows expressed his and the president’s openness to a proposal with a price tag of $1.5 trillion, which he said is higher than previous proposals but not a “showstopper.”
“Not only am I encouraged, but I think the President himself is encouraged, I spoke to him,” Meadows told CNBC on Wednesday. “At least it provides a foundation for us to come back to the table and start to talk about where maybe we disagree on a couple of priorities.”
Meadows applauded the $1.5 trillion stimulus proposal unveiled by a bipartisan group of House membersthis week, aiming to break the gridlock. It included provisions like a second round of stimulus checks, an extension of extra unemployment benefits, aid to small businesses and schools, election aid, among others.
A group of Democratic U.S. House Committee Chairs said the proposal “falls short of what is needed to save lives and boost the economy,” in a statement on Tuesday.