Oct. 7 — President Donald Trump has reversed course somewhat on his declaration that he’s broken off negotiations with House Democrats on a new COVID-19 stimulus package, saying he’s open to pursuing smaller-scale, individual measures.
Tuesday afternoon, Trump said in a series of tweets that he’d ended talks on a stimulus bill until after the Nov. 3 election. Hours later, he partly walked back the move and said he would approve another direct $1,200 stimulus payment to Americans and stand-alone funding for certain industries, including U.S. airlines.
“I am ready to sign right now,” one tweet said.
The contradictory messages came a day after Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was treated for COVID-19.
Trump’s initial message was followed by a selloff in U.S. equity markets and stoked fears that homes and businesses would face more hardship brought on by the pandemic. Some critics slammed Trump’s earlier declaration as a pure political move.
“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that matters to him,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a tweet.
“Trump turned his back on millions of Americans who are struggling to get through this global pandemic and desperately needed relief,” added Biden’s vice presidential running-mate Kamala Harris, who will appear with Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday night in their only debate.
Earlier Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that a lack of more stimulus could lead to a “weak recovery” and “unnecessary hardship” for millions of Americans.
Later, Trump accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “not negotiating in good faith.”
Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers have been negotiating for weeks with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a new round of stimulus. The House favors a larger package that includes money for unemployed Americans, businesses and states to fight the pandemic. Republicans have favored a more piecemeal approach with smaller, individual measures that earmark less money for only certain recipients.
The House passed a $2.2 trillion measure last week that includes another $1,200 payment and resurrects an enhanced federal unemployment supplement of $600 per week, which out-of-work Americans have not received since late July when the first round of aid expired.
Republicans balked at the proposal, objecting to funding for state and local governments whose revenues have been interrupted by the health crisis.