Administration

Trump backs infrastructure bill as next phase of coronavirus relief

President Trump on Tuesday encouraged Congress to pass a $2 trillion infrastructure bill as the next piece of legislation to boost the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” Trump tweeted.

“It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country!”

Trump last week signed into law a $2 trillion economic relief package targeting small businesses and workers impacted by the fallout of the virus. Lawmakers are already eyeing a fourth stimulus package to try and keep the economy afloat, and House Democrats have zeroed in on major investments in infrastructure.

Democrats have suggested an infrastructure bill could include updates to public drinking water systems and hospital capacity, as well as upgrades to rural broadband in light of increased teleworking and online schooling during the pandemic. The upshot would include additional jobs at a time when unemployment filings are skyrocketing into the millions, Democrats argue.

Some in the party have also signaled a phase four stimulus bill could include other measures left out of earlier packages, such as expanded paid leave for workers and parents forced to stay at home during the outbreak and increased worker protections.

Trump’s backing could push Republicans to support such a measure, though GOP leaders have been hesitant to move forward with legislation that might include certain Democratic priorities they argue are unrelated to combating the virus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show” on Tuesday that “we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out” with the most recent stimulus bill.

“Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly,” McConnell said. “I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Sunday he was unsure whether a fourth economic package would even be necessary.

But Trump on Sunday night extended federal social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus through the end of April, signaling that the economic hardship could stretch longer than optimistic lawmakers initially hoped.

The president and lawmakers in both parties have long discussed the possibility of a sweeping infrastructure package, considering it one of a few areas with bipartisan support. But talks have consistently stalled over disagreements on how to fund such a bill.

It’s unclear when Congress would act on a new coronavirus stimulus bill. Senate Republican leaders recessed the upper chamber last week until at least the week of April 20, and House Democrats announced Monday that they’ve adopted that same timeline.

There are roughly 165,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. as of Tuesday morning. More than 3,100 Americans have died from the virus.

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Infrastructure Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Stimulus

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