This story is developing.
President Donald Trump said “much higher numbers’’ are needed for the next stimulus package.
Here’s what you need to know.
Trump tweeted Wednesday: “Democrats are “heartless”. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China. Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).’’
Trump’s push for a higher stimulus package comes as the president faces re-election in November and millions of Americans are unemployed or struggling financially from the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, higher spending may place Trump at odds with Senate Republicans who have proposed a $500 billion stimulus package that didn’t include second stimulus checks. That stimulus proposal was preceded by the Heals Act, a $1 trillion stimulus bill that Senate Republicans proposed this summer.
“I’m not sure what higher number means … but I know sort of what the threshold is for what we can (get) Republican votes for in the Senate, and if the numbers are too high anything that got passed in the Senate would be passed mostly with Democrat votes and a handful of Republicans,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told CNN. “It’s got to have a realistic range if we want to maximize, optimize, the number of Republican senators that will vote for it.”
Trump could be especially interested in second stimulus checks to provide financial relief in the form of direct payments. In addition to economic support, second stimulus checks could help boost the president’s re-election prospects. Republicans and Democrats previously agreed in principle on $1,200 second stimulus checks for individuals and $2,400 for married/joint filers.
What do “higher numbers” mean for the next stimulus?
There’s been much speculation about what Trump means by “much higher numbers.” Is he referring to the $1 trillion Heals Act? The $500 billion Republican proposal? The Democrats’ $2.2 trillion proposal? White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany clarified on Wednesday during a press briefing. “What the President was referring to was the $500 billion bill that passed the Senate,” McEnany said. “It didn’t include direct payments. So, he wants more than the $500 billion, and he is very keen to see these direct stimulus payments and we hope that Nancy Pelosi will work with us in good faith.”
How big will the next stimulus package be?
What will be included in the next stimulus package? In reaching a potential deal, Senate Republicans may focus on a headline number and for their policy priorities within that range. Initially, that headline number was $1 trillion. However, Sen. Lindsay Graham (S-SC) noted that up to half of Senate Republicans would ‘no’ on the Heals Act, suggesting $1 trillion of stimulus spending would disappoint fiscal conservatives. More recently, Republicans rallied around a skinnier stimulus package with a $500 billion price tag, although that legislative proposal likely won’t pass. In contrast, Democrats want $2.2 trillion for the next stimulus package, according to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). That’s nearly two-thirds the size of The Heroes Act, which Democrats proposed earlier this year for the next stimulus package.
“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “We look forward to hearing from the president’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation.”
It’s unclear if congressional Republicans will embrace Trump’s call for a higher stimulus plan, particularly since they have been focused on lower spending.
Congress is now in session. While there is no guarantee there will be a stimulus deal, both parties appear interested in striking a deal. However, both political parties are at an impasse. Given that many members of Congress spend October campaigning for re-election, a stimulus deal may not get done before November. That said, if a deal is to get done, the end of September or early October would likely be the last chance before the election on November 3. Congress also must contend with a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded starting October 1. Republicans want a $500 billion to $1 trillion stimulus deal and Democrats are set on $2.2 trillion stimulus package. If second stimulus checks are included in a potential deal, Republicans and Democrats likely would need to reach consensus in the $1.5 trillion to $2.0 trillion range.
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