President Donald Trump has reportedly raised his price for the stimulus check in the hopes of making a deal before the 2020 presidential election. Two sources close to the negotiations told CNN that Trump has signed off on a $1.8 trillion offer. While this still falls short of Democrats' $2.2 trillion asking price, it brings the two sides much closer.
Trump is eager to see a stimulus bill passed before the election, believing it will help his chances if Americans believe he is responsible for getting them financial aid. However, the White House is making offers well outside the comfort zone of the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate, effectively making this a three-way negotiation. It is unclear whether the Senate would pass a $1.8 trillion stimulus bill, as they have only agreed to $1 trillion publicly. At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that she and other Democrats will not dip below $2 trillion.
Pelosi's chief of staff, Drew Hammill, tweeted that she had a phone conversation with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday. Mnuchin, negotiation on behalf of Trump, offered "a proposal that attempted to address some of the concerns Democrats have. Of special concern is the absence of an agreement on a strategic plan to crush the virus."
"For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the Administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue," Hammill noted.
This inflated offer from the White House comes just days after Trump brashly announced on Twitter that he was halting all stimulus check negotiations until after the election. Within minutes of this announcement, the stock market plunged, reportedly alarming the president enough for him to backtrack. However, on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that he believes a new package is unlikely to pass before the election.
"The situation is kinda murky, and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election," said McConnell, who blocked all progress on stimulus negotiations from May to July. "And everybody trying to elbow for political advantage. I'd like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April but I think that's unlikely in the next three weeks."
Many Americans may not be able to wait that long, with the coronavirus pandemic raging on and, in many places, worsening. Several industries are waiting on aid to pay furloughed workers, and millions of unemployed Americans are counting on assistance as well. At the time of this writing, Democrats' $2.2 trillion stimulus package is still technically on the table.