President Donald Trump fired off another tweet about the stalled coronavirus stimulus package relief talks between Congressional Democrats, Republicans, and the White House Saturday morning. Trump called for a "big and focused" bill without offering further details. The comment came two days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that he still does not agree with Democrats who want a large package passed.
"Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done," Trump wrote. This was his first public comment on the stimulus talks since President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3. Trump did not mention stimulus relief in his Rose Garden remarks Friday, instead of focusing on his administration's Operation Warp Speed program for a coronavirus vaccine.
While Trump had remained quiet on the relief negotiations, Republicans and Democrats clarified where they stand on Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they both support a coronavirus relief package that would cost over $2 trillion. Schumer predicted it would be easier to get a bill passed during the lame-duck session because Trump's approach was "repudiated" with his election loss. "The Joe Biden approach was embraced and that's why we think there's a better chance to get a bill in the lame-duck, if only the Republicans would stop embracing the ridiculous shenanigans that Trump is forcing them to do in the election and focus on what people need," the New York Democrat said.
On the other side of the aisle, McConnell sticks with his belief that there should be a smaller, targeted relief package. On Thursday, McConnell told reporters a bigger package is "not a place I think we're willing to go," reports CNN. He supports a bill that is "highly targeted at what the residual problems are." Still, McConnell agreed that there has to be another package of some kind. "Hopefully, we can get past the impasse we've had now for four or five months and get serious about doing something that's appropriate," McConnell said.
The talks have been mostly a back-and-forth between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Still, the Washington Post reports McConnell would take a leading role in the talks during the lame-duck period after the election. A source said there was "little sign" Pelosi and Mnuchin would return to the negotiating table. Hence, the Trump administration was willing to let the re-elected McConnell lead the discussions.
Whenever the new coronavirus relief bill takes shape, it will come more than nine months after the CARES Act, the last sweeping coronavirus relief package, passed. The $2 trillion packages included a one-time stimulus check, with qualifying individuals receiving at least $1,200. Both parties have signaled they agree on another payment, but it seems unlikely that the second check would come before the end of the year at this rate. In addition to the stimulus package, Congress also has to pass new spending legislation to avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 11.