President Donald Trump declared Friday he’s in no hurry for Congress to pass more stimulus measures to help the economy, hours after the Labor Department announced an unprecedented 20 million jobs were lost in April.
“We’re in no rush,” Trump said while meeting with about two dozen House Republicans, who spent an hour taking turns complimenting and congratulating the president for his response to the coronavirus outbreak that’s cratered the economy.
Congressional Democrats, Trump said, “want things, and we’re happy with what’s gone on -- we got what we needed. But at the same time, we want to do what’s right for the country.”
Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus into law in late March that’s provided payroll support to small businesses, $1,200 direct payments to families and boosted unemployment checks for millions of people out of work. The small business program’s initial $454 billion was retopped with $310 billion last month. But Democrats have said the federal government needs to assist states facing huge budget shortfalls, as well as directing more aid to struggling families and small businesses.
The earlier rounds of stimulus were passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, as Congress anticipated massive job losses from the social-distancing practices Americans adopted to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has said the next relief package should be “big and bold,” but she faces a divide in her party between between liberals who want an expansive package and moderates in tightly contested districts who want to compromise with Republicans.
Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, described talks about a next round of stimulus as “in a lull right now” in remarks on Friday following the jobs report.
“We just had another big infusion. We put all this money in, which is fine,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “It’s well worth it. Let’s see what happens.”
But Republicans face divisions as well. Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who faces a difficult re-election contest in November, said Friday on Twitter that Congress should “act now” to provide state and local aid and prevent furloughs of government employees.
Trump and some Senate Republicans led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they oppose aid to states with large pension obligations or other financial problems that predate the coronavirus outbreak. McConnell has suggested states be allowed to declare bankruptcy, a proposal met with outrage from Democrats and some Republicans who say the financial consequences would be devastating.
Republicans are seeking their own new coronavirus measures, including liability protections for businesses that bring workers back to the job.
And Trump seeks new tax cuts, including reducing or eliminating payroll taxes and capital gains taxes, which he says will encourage hiring and investment. He’s also proposed restoring deductions for business entertainment at restaurants, to benefit the restaurant industry, and expanding write-offs for businesses’ capital expenses.
Most of those measures are at least regarded skeptically by Democrats, if not outright opposed, and will require concessions to Pelosi and her allies.
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