President Donald Trump on Thursday said talks with Congress have restarted over further COVID-19 economic relief and that there was a good chance a deal could be reached, but gave no other details about a possible agreement.
“Now they are starting to work out,” he told Fox Business Network in a telephone interview about talks, after he cut off negotiations via a post on Twitter earlier this week.
On Wednesday evening, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the possibility of Congress passing a bill to help the ailing U.S. airline industry.
Pelosi aide Drew Hammill said another conversation was scheduled for Thursday. Pelosi also is scheduled to hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m., when more details could emerge.
Democrats have been pushing for $25 billion in new aid to alleviate airline companies’ planned layoffs. But they also want a more comprehensive bill that includes money to assist state and local governments.
Trump’s remarks early on Thursday were one more lurch in a roller-coaster week in which he had reversed his call for intensive negotiations on a new coronavirus aid bill by proclaiming that there would be no more talks on a deal until after the Nov. 3 presidential and congressional elections.
The Republican president also said discussions include a second round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals.
With the coronavirus pandemic still raging in the United States, Trump, who was diagnosed last week with COVID-19, is trailing Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden in public opinion polls.
Worries over the pandemic top voters’ concerns and Trump has gotten low marks on his handling of it.
Meanwhile, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News that the U.S. economic recovery does not depend upon another stimulus bill, despite warnings from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that action was needed.
Kudlow added that the administration wants to see “standalone” bills to provide additional unemployment assistance, an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program small business loans, stimulus checks for individuals and education aid.
All these components would make for a large package that could carry a high price tag — possibly well beyond anything Senate Republicans would support.
Over the past couple months, Pelosi has scaled back her demand for around $3.4 trillion in new aid, saying Democrats who control the House could settle for around $2.2 trillion. The White House went on record, several weeks ago, backing as much as $1.6 trillion in aid.
But many Senate Republicans have balked at anything over $1 trillion, with some of them opposed to any aid beyond the more than $3 trillion enacted earlier this year.