President Donald Trump appears to once again support negotiations on a stimulus bill after earlier this week, telling Congressional Republicans to halt talks with Democrats. During an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Thursday morning, the president said that talks are "starting to work out."
"I think we have a really good chance of doing something," he said in the live TV segment, adding that there are "very productive talks" going on about coronavirus relief. The statement came as a bit of a surprise to those who have been following along closely with stimulus news, as Trump pulled his team out of negotiations on Tuesday. He did appear to backtrack later that night after stocks plummeted following his statement about postponing talks until after the election. At that point, he called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send him standalone assistance bills, including for airlines and individual stimulus checks.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held phone calls Wednesday on potential aid for the airline industry. Still, it does not appear that Mnuchin was receptive to other elements of a comprehensive relief package. While Pelosi has rejected pressure from Trump on approving a bill authorizing just $1,200 individual stimulus checks alone, Trump claimed Thursday morning that those checks — and other measures — are on the table.
"We started talking again. And we're talking about airlines and we're talking about a bigger deal than airlines," Trump said. "We're talking about a deal with $1,200 per person, we're talking about other things."
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said Wednesday that Pelosi and Mnuchin are set to talk again on Thursday. The optimistic nature of talks in recent hours was reflected in the stock market, with S&P 500 Index futures up 0.6% Thursday morning.
Americans were reminded Thursday morning of the continuing need for relief again, with a government report showcasing 840,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance in the most recent week in regular state programs. That's more than quadruple the level before the pandemic hit, and higher than the peak of the 2007-09 recession.
Despite the clear need for financial relief, Congress has been at odds for months, ever since approving the CARES Act earlier this year. Democrats believe a more comprehensive bill is in order to correctly simulate the economy while Republicans believe the aid should be more targeted to specific industries.
In an appearance on The View Wednesday, Pelosi reiterated her stance that $1,200 checks alone would not be enough to get the country back on its feet. "Well, it's hard to see any clear sane path in anything that he is doing. But the fact is, is that he saw the political downside of his statement of walking away from the negotiations," Pelosi said of Trump. "All he has ever wanted in negotiation was to send out a check with his name printed on it. Forget about the virus."