President Trump said Tuesday that he would support a coronavirus relief package with an even bigger price tag than Democrats' $2.2 trillion proposal, as both parties rush to deliver aid to Americans ahead of the November election.
"Let me just explain," Trump said during an interview on "Fox & Friends." "I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats. Not every Republican agrees, but they will. I want to do it even bigger, because this is money going to people who did not deserve what happened to them."
"I would rather go bigger than that number, but we'll see," he added. "[House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] doesn't want to do anything until after the election, because she thinks it helps her. I actually think it helps us, because everyone knows she's the one who's breaking up the deal."
Trump's remarks come ahead of a Tuesday deadline for reaching a pre-election deal that Pelosi imposed earlier this week.
Although Democrats and Republicans broadly agree that another bill is necessary to aid the economy's recovery, they sharply disagree over the size and scope of it and they are billions of dollars apart in their proposals, unable to reconcile key policy differences on issues such as a virus testing plan, aid to state and local governments, and tax cuts for low- and middle-income families.
The Trump administration's latest $1.8 trillion proposal -- its largest yet -- was expected to include a second round of direct payments of up to $1,200 for adults and $1,000 for children; expanded unemployment benefits at $400 per week and additional funding for state and local governments.
But the offer drew criticism from Democrats, who said the proposal gave Trump too much power in determining how the funds were spent, and Republicans, many of whom balked at another massive spending initiative amid the nation's ballooning deficit, which is projected to hit a record-shattering $3.3 trillion this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. (Over the summer, a number of GOP senators revolted against a $1 trillion spending plan.)
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back against a relief deal that costs more than $1.8 trillion, saying that GOP senators believed "a half a trillion dollars, highly targeted, is the best way to go."
Trump said that he would take "all the votes you can get, whether it's Democrat or Republican."
Pelosi spoke with the Trump administration's top negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for about an hour on Monday, and her office said they are continuing to "narrow their differences."
“Finally, they have come to the table and we’re going to try to get something done,” Pelosi said on MSNBC Monday evening. The California Democrat said the two sides will evaluate the progress on Tuesday.
“Let’s make a judgment. We may not like this, we may not like that but let’s see on balance if we can go forward,” Pelosi said.
For months, Congress has struggled to reach an agreement on additional stimulus. Negotiations first collapsed in early August, prompting Trump to sign four executive measures intended to provide relief to families still reeling from the virus-induced crisis, including temporarily extending supplemental jobless aid at $300 a week.
But that aid is beginning to expire, and lifelines that propped up the economy in the early weeks of the pandemic — like the $670 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a one-time $1,200 stimulus check and sweetened unemployment benefits — lapsed weeks ago.
Economists have urged lawmakers to pass another round of emergency aid, or risk imperiling the nation's tepid turnaround from the virus-induced crisis. There are still 10 million more unemployed Americans than there were in February, before the economy shut down. The jobless rate is at 7.9%.