President Trump urged Congress to “go big or go home” on another round of coronavirus stimulus, amid broad objections within his own party to his latest $1.8 trillion proposal.
“STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2020
In doing so, the president undermined a statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) less than an hour earlier that said the upper chamber would vote on a bill providing “targeted relief for American workers” that includes more funding for small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
“When the full Senate returns on October 19th, our first order of business will be voting again on targeted relief for American workers, including new funding for the PPP,” McConnell said. “Unless Democrats block this aid for workers, we will have time to pass it before we proceed as planned to the pending Supreme Court nomination as soon as it is reported by the Judiciary Committee.”
Senate Republicans offered swift objections to the Trump administration’s $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief proposal on a conference call over the weekend, after the president’s top aides took the offer to Democratic leaders in negotiations over a new round of stimulus. McConnell has made clear he objects to spending trillions of dollars to help buoy the economy and combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump’s advisers have sought to downplay the division between the president and GOP members of Congress on more stimulus.
“I believe Senate Republicans would ultimately come along with what the president wants,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday called on lawmakers to pass legislation allowing the administration to spend unused PPP funds as negotiators tussle over a potential deal.
The administration and Congress appear far from reaching an agreement, and the prospect seems increasingly unlikely before the November election just three weeks away. Negotiations have dragged on and stalled out at points since late July without success.
Trump is currently trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in national and battleground state polling; a stimulus deal could offer Trump a boost in the final days of the campaign.
Trump himself has sent wildly conflicting signals about his desire for a relief package over the last week. He announced that his team was walking away from negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last Tuesday, only to later signal a desire for action on standalone bills on airline assistance and stimulus checks. By Friday, Trump’s advisers had presented the $1.8 million counteroffer even as the president told conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh that he wanted a bigger stimulus bill than the Democrats’s $2.2 trillion proposal.
“I would like to see a bigger stimulus package than either Democrats or Republicans are offering,” Trump said during a two-hour appearance on the radio program Friday afternoon.