Trump says he’s willing to raise stimulus offer over $1.8T

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President Trump said Thursday that he is willing to go higher than his current $1.8 trillion offer for the next coronavirus stimulus package as the White House continues negotiations with Democrats.

“Absolutely, I would. I would pay more. I would go higher. Go big or go home, I said it yesterday. Go big or go home,” Trump said during a phone interview on Fox Business Thursday morning, despite the likelihood of a larger offer encountering pushback from congressional Republicans.

Trump, who did not specify a dollar amount, said that he had directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to offer a larger figure to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before taking an extraordinary swipe at a member of his own Cabinet by complaining that Mnuchin “hasn’t come home with the bacon.”

Trump also said that he was not willing to agree to Pelosi’s own $2.2 trillion offer, claiming as he has repeatedly that the top Democrat is seeking to “bail out” cities and states run by Democrats that are cash-strapped for reasons unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

“She is asking for all sorts of goodies. She wants to bail out badly run Democrat states and cities. She wants money for things that you would never, you just couldn’t, just your pride couldn’t let it happen,” Trump told host Stuart Varney.

Trump accused Pelosi of being unwilling to strike a deal because “she thinks it helps her with the election” while insisting that Republicans would be advantaged “because everyone knows she is holding it up.” 

The president insisted that Republicans are on board for a larger stimulus package, despite objections among GOP senators to the $1.8 trillion offer that Mnuchin proposed to Pelosi last week. Trump also claimed that the United States would force China to pay for the additional stimulus, without providing an explanation of how he would do so, as he blamed Beijing for the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Republicans are willing to do it. I’d like to see more money, because it comes back. It’s going to come back anyway,” Trump said. “We’re going to take it from China. It’s coming out of China. They’re the ones that caused this problem.”

In a separate interview on CNBC, Mnuchin said that the White House would not allow differences on language for testing derail the negotiations, which have ebbed and flowed since late July without a resolution. 

“That issue is getting overblown,” Mnuchin said on CNBC. “We’ve agreed to $178 billion overall for health. It’s an extraordinary amount of money. We’d agreed with the Democrats with $75 billion going to testing, contact tracing.”

“What we have been focused on is the language around testing,” he continued. “When I speak to Pelosi today, I’m going to tell her that we’re not going to let the testing issue stand in the way. We’ll fundamentally agree with their testing language subject to some minor issues. This issue is being overblown.” 

Their remarks followed the release of new Labor Department data showing that the initial jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 10 spiked to 898,000, the highest level in seven weeks. The data underscored the continued weakness of the U.S. economy, as businesses and workers feel the devastating impact of the coronavirus and related closures. 

Mnuchin and Pelosi have held daily discussions on a potential deal and are expected to speak again on Thursday. 

Trump has over the past week insisted he wants a big deal tweeting Tuesday that Congress should “go big or go home” on a stimulus package but Republicans seem to have little appetite for a large agreement. On a conference call over the weekend, Senate Republicans expressed opposition to the $1.8 trillion package proposed by the White House. 

Senate Republicans are expected to vote on a smaller $500 billion COVID-19 relief plan next week.

On Wednesday, Mnuchin conceded that it would be difficult to get a fifth coronavirus relief package approved before Election Day, which is now just 20 days away.

Updated at 1:13 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi relief bill Steven Mnuchin Stimulus

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