Trump suddenly ended negotiations two days earlier at a time when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were closing on a deal.
“I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out,” Trump said in an interview on the Fox Business Network. “Now they are starting to work out. We’re starting to have very productive talks.”
Trump received bipartisan criticism for shutting down the talks that were trying to close the gap between the House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion coronavirus legislation and a White House willing to go no higher than $1.6 billion. The stock market also tumbled that day.
“It’s not anybody’s fault,” Trump said. “They were trying to get things and we were trying to get things. It wasn’t going anywhere. I shut it down. I don’t want to play games.”
“Then we reopened. We have a really good chance of doing something.”
At his coronavirus press briefing Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy urged Trump and Congress to pass a stimulus bill now, without waiting until after the election as the president said he would do when he killed the negotiations.
“We can’t afford that,” Murphy said. “We will as a nation and we probably will as a state go into a free fall as a result of that. Please God, folks get something done. Please Mr. President, support it, sign it and send it out to the people who need it the most.”
One of the main points of contention is the Democratic demand to include aid to help state and local governments pay the salaries of police officers, firefighters, health care workers, teachers and other public sector employees.
Trump and Senate Republicans have described the aid as a bailout for Democratic-run states even though Republican-controlled Texas and Florida have among the hardest hit by a decline in tax revenues.
Another holdup is an effort to develop a comprehensive plan to tackle the virus, which Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. discussed Thursday on Capitol Hill.
The Democratic bill has $75 billion to expand testing and contract tracing.
“This is the key to everything,” said Pallone, D-6th Dist. “You will not be able to open the economy, recover the economy, unless you crush the virus, and this is our responsibility.”
Pelosi said she has discussed aid for airlines, which are threatening to lay off thousands of employees without federal assistance, but said she would not support a bill to help just one industry.
“There is not going to be a stand-alone bill unless there is a bigger bill,” said Pelosi, D-Calif. “Why should we do one without the other?”
The House bill also included $600 in extra weekly federal unemployment insurance payments through Jan. 31, more paycheck protection program funds for small businesses, money for the Postal Service, and a one-year suspension of the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes.
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