Trump says he will back coronavirus relief if Congress can reach deal

President Trump on Thursday said he would sign a coronavirus relief package if Congress can broker a deal in the final weeks of the year after months of gridlock.

“I want it to happen, and I believe they’re getting very close to a deal,” Trump said in the Oval Office after awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former football coach Lou Holtz.

Asked if he will support a deal, Trump replied, “I will.”

Congress has failed to pass a broad relief bill for months as Democrats and Republicans spar over the price tag and the inclusion of aid for state and local governments, among other sticking points. But pressure has picked up for lawmakers to act as the Trump administration winds down and as the nation is gripped by another severe surge in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers released a framework this week for a $908 billion bill and are expected to release text by Monday.

That bill includes more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a $300 per week beefed up unemployment payment and more money for state and local governments. The measure also included short-term federal liability protections, a sticking point for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday embraced the $908 billion bipartisan proposal as a starting place for negotiations. 

“We believe with good faith negotiations we could come to an agreement,” Schumer said Thursday.  

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor Thursday, said he believed a deal on coronavirus relief was “within reach,” but didn’t embrace the bipartisan proposal released earlier in the week.

Trump has previously urged Congress to “go big” on coronavirus relief. But he does not appear to be playing an active role in negotiations or in the broader pandemic response as his time in the White House ticks down.

Tags 2020 election Charles Schumer Coronavirus COVID-19 relief Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Pandemic Stimulus

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