President Donald Trump’s advisers called on him to call for $ 2,000 direct payments to Americans in the next federal coronavirus rescue package, as it could have derailed aid negotiations on Capitol Hill, The Washington Post reported.
The newspaper cited two sources familiar with the events.
The Post reported that Trump made a phone call to allies saying he wanted stimulus payments to be “a minimum” of $ 1,200 and perhaps as much as $ 2,000. Congress leaders are drafting a $ 900 billion aid package with $ 600 direct payments to Americans, half of the $ 1,200 disbursed in March and April through an earlier pandemic relief package.
Trump was said to be in the process of stating his wish when White House officials told him the move would capsize negotiations between top Republicans and Democrats, which seem likely to run into the weekend. Republicans are trying to keep the price of an aid package below $ 1 trillion, and larger direct payments could drive the cost of the legislation much further.
An anonymous source told The Post that “assistants were really hectic and said, ‘We can’t do this; it will blow up negotiations.’ ‘
Ben Williamson, a White House spokesman, told The Post that Trump was backing large aid payments for struggling Americans.
“The president has heard of Americans across the country who are in pain through no fault of their own, and has made it clear that he wants the next round of relief to include a significant number of stimulus checks,” he said. “We are working with Congress to reach an agreement that can be passed as soon as possible.”
In the run-up to the election, Trump sought out a major aid package, sometimes suggesting he could support one greater than the $ 2.2 trillion Democrats wanted. But Republicans did not follow suit and repeatedly threw cold water on his demands. Instead, they chose to push for a $ 500 billion aid package that Democrats twice blocked.
The president’s stance on coronavirus relief has changed a lot over time, and he has been largely silent on the subject since his election defeat to Joe Biden. However, Trump recently publicly stated that he still stands behind large direct payments. “Right now, I want checks – for more money than they’re talking about – going to people,” he told Fox News in an interview that aired Sunday.
The White House entered emergency relief negotiations last week with a bid of $ 916 billion, including direct payments of $ 600. Democrats, however, have been plotting to rule out federal unemployment benefits.
On Capitol Hill, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont have made calls to include direct payments, which were initially omitted from a two-pronged plan now being considered. Progressive lawmakers in Parliament have also stepped up their efforts to include significant payments in the next aid package.