November 29, 2020

Trump calls on Congress in late-night tweetstorm to approve $1,200 direct payments and small-business aid only hours after cutting off stimulus negotiations

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  • President Donald Trump appeared to change course and called on Congress to pass standalone stimulus bills — hours after ending coronavirus aid negotiations with Democrats.
  • He urged lawmakers to approve measures for $1,200 stimulus checks, small business aid, and direct assistance to airlines to prevent layoffs.
  • He said he would immediately sign those bills, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats previously rejected 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 urged Congress to pass standalone bills on direct payments and assistance to airlines and small businesses — all measures that would have likely been included in the larger piece of legislation that was being negotiated between the White House and Democrats.

Major airlines are moving to layoff 32,000 workers in the coming weeks, and it has increased pressure on the administration to strike a deal with Democrats to prevent job losses. 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 $1,200 direct payments for American taxpayers.

The president tagged White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; House Majority 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 on Tuesday. The president abruptly announced that he ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cease negotiating on a government aid package with Pelosi, and said a large bill would come after the 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.

Both sides were $700 billion apart in their virus aid proposals with Democrats recently passing a $2.2 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 which ultimately collapsed.

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.