President Donald Trump renewed his calls for a new coronavirus relief package on Saturday, making his first comments about a potential stimulus check for Americans since the election.
“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
Though Trump hadn’t said anything after the November 3 election about a stimulus package until Saturday, throughout October, the president was stumping hard for Congress to pass a new package. Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans have been stalled for months.
In May, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) proposed a $3.4 trillion package, though congressional Republicans and the White House balked at the cost. October saw a whittled-down proposal from Pelosi with a $2.2 trillion price tag, which included another $1,200 stimulus check sent to Americans. The White House countered with a $1.8 trillion bill—also including stimulus checks—which Pelosi refused.
However, as the election neared, Trump appeared to favor a larger package. In an interview with Rush Limbaugh in early October, the president said he wanted “to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or the Republicans are offering.”
“I’d like to see a bigger package. I’d like to see money going to people,” he added.
Though Trump continued calling for a larger stimulus package, tweeting “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” on October 13, he appeared to change his mind a week later. On October 21, Trump again blamed Democrats for holding up the stimulus bill by demanding too much.
“Just don’t see any way Nancy Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer will be willing to do what is right for our great American workers, or our wonderful USA itself, on Stimulus. Their primary focus is BAILING OUT poorly run (and high crime) Democrat cities and states Should take care of our people. It wasn’t their fault that the Plague came in from China!” Trump wrote.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.
In the meantime, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has attempted to pass a “skinny” stimulus package with a $500 billion price tag. However, his bill was blocked by Democrats in September and again in October. The $500 billion bill did not include stimulus checks, as McConnell said that since the unemployment rate was falling, a larger package was not needed.
“I don’t think the current situation demands a multitrillion-dollar package,” McConnell said Tuesday, according to Business Insider.
Congress must pass the next federal budget by December 11 to avoid a government shutdown. A stimulus package of some sort could be involved in that budget. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said in the past that once a bill involving stimulus checks is passed, the treasury would be able to issue the checks to Americans within weeks.