ADDS details, background
President Donald Trump said Thursday he now sees “really good” odds of reaching a deal with Democrats in Congress on a new round of coronavirus stimulus to boost the battered US economy, a sharp reversal from his stance earlier this week.
“We’re starting to have some very productive talks,” he said, referring specifically to proposals for assistance for airlines and $1,200 checks for workers.
“We’re talking about a bigger deal than airlines,” he told Fox Business News. “I think we have a really good chance of doing something.”
His comments marked a definitive about-face after abruptly ending the negotiations with Congressional Democrats on Tuesday and saying the stimulus package would have to wait until after the November 3 election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been negotiating for weeks, raising hopes for a huge, new relief package, but Trump accused Pelosi of not negotiating in good faith.
Following an outcry from both parties and business leaders as well as a drop in the stock market, Trump changed gears and called for Congress to “immediately” pass stand-alone legislation to extend aid to airline workers and small businesses.
Pelosi’s team seized on the president’s statement, pointing out that just last week Republicans blocked a stand-alone bill to prevent massive layoffs by airlines.
In the interview, Trump struck a more conciliatory tone, saying “it’s not anybody’s fault” the talks were not successful.
“It wasn’t going anywhere, I shut it down. I don’t want to play games. Then we reopened, and I see markets are doing well,” Trump said, highlighting one of his favored measures of success.
Wall Street closed with solid gains Wednesday, and were up slightly in early trading Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting a gain 0.3 percent around 1410 GMT.
Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke by telephone twice Wednesday about a new stimulus package, and were due to talk again Thursday, according to her staff.
Economists say a new round of government support is critical to prevent a wave of layoffs and bankruptcies and provide support for the unemployed.
The Labor Department reported Thursday that new applications for jobless benefits held at the very high level of 840,000 last week, and more than 25.2 million people in the United States were receiving some form of government aid in the week ended September 19.
Pelosi has said she would support a standalone measure to help airlines.
But Democrats are unlikely to agree to a piecemeal approach, since that would surrender the leverage needed to win concessions like aid to state and local governments to prevent job cuts among public workers.