"Right now, I want to see checks – for more money than they're talking about – going to people," Trump said during an interview with Fox News' Brian Kilmeade that aired on Sunday. "I'm pushing it very hard, and to be honest with you, if the Democrats really wanted to do the deal, they'd do the deal."
Trump has privately indicated that he would support sending a direct cash payment of up to $2,000, according to The Washington Post. The federal government sent out $1,200 stimulus checks earlier this year to millions of Americans as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which Congress passed in March.
The president's comments come amid a renewed push on Capitol Hill to pass another round of emergency aid for families and workers still reeling from the pandemic before the end of the year. A group of bipartisan senators unveiled a $908 billion framework two weeks ago that's garnered support from Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The aid package allocates about $300 billion in funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, $240 billion in aid for state and local governments, $180 billion to extend boosted unemployment benefits at $300 per week through March, and includes liability protections for businesses that remain open during the pandemic.
It notably does not include a second stimulus check, prompting some fierce pushback from a handful of senators, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
The two lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would attach an amendment for a second $1,200 check to a spending bill that needs to pass by Dec. 18 in order to avoid a government shutdown. The proposal mirrors the March CARES Act: The $1,200 payments for adults earning less than $75,000 would be tapered for higher-earners and phased out completely for individuals who earn more than $99,000. Children under the age of 17 would also receive a check for $500, meaning that a family of five could receive as much as $3,900.
“It would be a dereliction of duty if Congress adjourns for Christmas without having a vote on providing working families with direct payments,” Hawley said in a statement. “Working people are struggling. And they should be the first people given relief, not last."
Both senators have threatened to use the Friday government funding deadline to try to force a vote on the stimulus checks.
"I am not one of the members of the Senate who shuts down, does this or does that and keeps you here for the weekend. I don't do that. But this I want to say right now, I am prepared to withdraw my objection at this moment, but I will not be prepared to withdraw an objection next week," Sanders said last week.
A $916 billion offer from the Trump administration last week included a one-time payment of $600 for adults, but compensated for that by slashing funding for federal unemployment benefits. Democrats swiftly rejected the proposal, with Schumer and Pelosi calling the elimination of the jobless aid "unacceptable."