White House adviser says new COVID stimulus talks on pause

Aaron Schwartz

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow signaled Friday that formal negotiations on the next coronavirus stimulus package would be paused until early June.

“We’re in a lot of conversations right now. We’ve kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “Let’s have a look at what the latest round produces. You need a month or so to evaluate that.”

Kudlow also noted that he and White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett continue to hold discussions with lawmakers, including a phone call Thursday with about 50 bipartisan members of the House.

Kudlow emphasized that it was important to evaluate the impact of the last round of stimulus and the effect of states’ loosening coronavirus restrictions before enacting legislation providing further relief.

“We just had another big infusion. We put all this money in, which is fine. It’s well worth it. Let’s see what happens,” Kudlow said. “As we move into the reopening phase this month, maybe spillover to June, let’s have a look at it before we decide who, what, where, when.”

President Trump also told reporters later Friday that the administration was not in a rush to reach a deal on a new measure to stem the economic fallout of the pandemic. His remarks came after the United States reported more than 20 million job losses in April and an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent.

“We’re in no rush. We’re in no rush. The Democrats have to do what they have to do, but I would say we’re not looking — we want to see what they have. But I can’t say that we’re in a rush,” Trump told reporters during a meeting with GOP lawmakers. “We were in a rush to get the money out to people. We have gotten the money out.”

Trump in late March signed a bipartisan $2 trillion relief package that included one-time $1,200 payments to many Americans, assistance for small businesses and enhanced unemployment benefits. Trump has since signed legislation replenishing a small business loan program meant to provide assistance to businesses affected by coronavirus closures.

House Democrats are pushing forward on crafting the next stimulus proposal, eyeing assistance for states and cities. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, has called for a pause on emergency assistance until the trillions already allocated get out the door. He has resisted Democrats’ push for more state funding and has also discussed a pause on the outflow of congressional spending.

Trump has advocated for a payroll tax holiday, infrastructure funding and tax incentives for businesses spending money on meals and entertainment to be part of the next package. The idea of a payroll tax cut has been met with skepticism by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, however.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a briefing that Trump wanted to move to consider the next phase, targeting Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not calling back the House to Washington.

“I think Nancy Pelosi should explore coming back and having the House come back and having those discussions,” McEnany said when asked about Kudlow’s remarks. “We know the Senate is here. I think it’s important for us to move and look at a phase four. The President thinks so too. So, those negotiations will happen.”

The Senate reconvened this week but the House has delayed its return on advice from the attending physician.

Brett Samuels contributed. 

Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump Larry Kudlow Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Paycheck Protection Program
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