Trump officially rejects any coronavirus relief for millions of Americans


Coronavirus relief negotiations had already slowed due before Donald Trump tweeted a demand that they stop.

In a Tuesday afternoon tweetstorm, Donald Trump urged the Senate to reject any effort by House Democrats to come to a coronavirus relief agreement this week.

"Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19," Trump tweeted. "We made a very generous offer of 1.6 Trillion Dollars and as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith."

"I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election," Trump said.

His tweets point back to last week before his coronavirus diagnosis, when House Democrats passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill, $1.2 trillion less than the original bill they proposed in May.

Not one House Republican voted for the bill.

But House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin remained in talks last week during which Republicans lowballed the numbers, countering with a $1.6 trillion plan.

According to Pelosi, areas of dispute between Democrats and the GOP included unemployment insurance (Democrats proposed $600 a week in added benefits, and the GOP proposed $400), state and local government funding, the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, funding for testing and tracing, and child care assistance funds.

And with three Republican senators testing positive for the coronavirus after the White House outbreak, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday that the Senate would not meet as originally planned.

The full Senate will not reconvene until Oct. 19.

Currently, Republican Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mike Lee of Utah, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have all tested positive, and James Lankford of Oklahoma has tested negative but is self-quarantining due to contact with infected colleagues.

The House, too, is in the midst of an October recess, so all is quiet on Capitol Hill.

And coronavirus relief negotiations, already fraught with tension as Democrats and Republicans attempted to come to a long-overdue agreement on a stimulus package, had already slowed due to the spread of the virus through the Senate.

Now Trump has halted them altogether.

He added in another tweet that he had instructed his "representatives" to cease all negotiations on coronavirus relief until after the election, when, he said, he would pass a major stimulus bill.

"I have asked Mitch McConnell not to delay, but to instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett," Trump tweeted, adding that he feels the economy is in fine shape and the stimulus package can wait.

This assertion is questionable at best. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 300 points today following his announcement, and only half of the 22.2 million jobs lost since the pandemic began have come back.

Looking back, Pelosi seemed hopeful Friday that the Democrats and Republicans could strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

She told MSNBC that Donald Trump's diagnosis "kind of changes the dynamic" of the coronavirus negotiations, because "here [Republicans] see the reality of what we have been saying all along. This is a vicious virus."

But, she cautioned in a news conference that same day, Trump and Republicans in Congress have been stubborn throughout the pandemic, denying science as well as governance.

Asked on "Face the Nation" Sunday whether negotiations on coronavirus relief would soon be reached, Pelosi was frank.

"That just depends on if (Republicans) understand what we have to do to crush the virus," she said. "You can't just say 'we need, we need to do something, but we're going to let this virus run free.'"

She took aim at the GOP's recalcitrance to reach a deal last week, noting in a news conference that Republicans "don't have shared values" with the Democratic Party about virus relief and containment.

And, as Trump and McConnell push through Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing and put a stop to providing any immediate relief for millions of Americans, it seems Pelosi was more right than she knew.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.