United States President Donald Trump speaks to reporters during a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, USA, on September 23, 2020.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
President Donald Trump pressured Congress to pass a coronavirus stimulus plan on Saturday as his administration and Congressional Democrats struggle to forge an aid deal.
In a tweet sent when the president was receiving treatment for Covid-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center, the president wrote, "OUR GREAT USA WANT AND NEED STIMULUS."
"WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT. Thank you!" he went on.
Trump's tweet puts him more in the tug-of-war over pandemic aid than in weeks of talks between his advisors and democratic leaders. Republicans and Democrats have failed to pour new money into the US economy and health care system for months as the GOP worries about out of control spending and the Democrats push for a full relief package.
An unexpectedly weak job report in September, as well as tens of thousands of newly announced layoffs and vacation days this week, added to concerns that the boost from previous economic cycles is wearing off.
Sustained pressure from the president could make it easier for some Republicans, especially in the GOP Senate, to get a stimulus agreement. On Friday, House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said Trump's diagnosis "changed the dynamics" of her talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin because Republicans will see "this is a vicious virus."
The California Democrat wrote to her caucus on Friday saying she hoped the sides could reach a deal despite "significant disagreements in key areas". She added: "We are continuing to work on the text to move forward quickly and reach an agreement."
The Democrats passed a $ 2.2 trillion aid package Thursday night, while the White House offered a $ 1.6 trillion bill. The sites have found common ground when it comes to policies, including direct payments to Americans, small business loans, and help to airlines to help cover payroll and prevent tens of thousands of vacations.
Issues at stake include unemployment insurance (Democrats have suggested $ 600 per week extra benefits while the White House has backed $ 400 per week) and state and community relief (Democrats have offered more than $ 400 billion, more than that $ 250 billion house proposed by the whites). The sides also disagreed on the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, funds to support childcare, and money to spend on testing and tracing for Covid-19.
The democratically-held house left for the month of Friday but could return to pass laws if Pelosi and Mnuchin can reach an agreement. The entire Senate will not meet until October 19 after three GOP Senators, two of whom attended last weekend's White House event to announce the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, positive for Covid-19 have been tested.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell tweeted Saturday afternoon that he had spoken to the president on a variety of topics, including the Supreme Court and "strengthening the economy."
The Senate's Republican-led Judiciary Committee will push ahead with its October 12th hearing on Barrett's nomination.
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