Before President Trump declared an end Tuesday to negotiations on coronavirus stimulus legislation, Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne estimated Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “were more than halfway through with good negotiations.”
Then, the tweet came.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump wrote. “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.
…request, and looking to the future of our Country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business. I have asked…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
Today, speaking to reporters in his home state of Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader McConnell cast doubt on the prospect of a new stimulus package moving through Congress before Election Day.
“I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election, and everybody trying to elbow for political advantage,” McConnell said, according to The Hill. “I’d like to see us rise above that … but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.”
As of Friday afternoon, however, negotiations appeared to be open, as news surfaced about a $1.8 trillion proposal the president reportedly supports and wants Mnuchin to present to Pelosi.
The president has not signed a comprehensive coronavirus stimulus package since March 27 when the CARES Act — which included the Paycheck Protection Program, enhanced unemployment insurance and checks to individual Americans — went into effect.
“This is not a time where we pull back,” Axne said Thursday afternoon in an interview with Starting Line. “And as a matter of fact, during the last recession, that was one of the mistakes that was made. We didn’t support state and local funding at the level that we needed to and we weren’t able to get as much out because of political positioning. And what that did was keep unemployment rates higher than they should have been, limited service capabilities by government, and all of those things just exacerbated the inability of our economy to get back on track.
“That’s why all of these issues have to be on the table,” Axne continued, “because if we don’t, the trillions of dollars that we put into this will have been in some cases in vein because we didn’t follow up with the ability to finish the deal and get this done for the American people.”
According to The Washington Post, “The deal under discussion by Pelosi and Mnuchin in the past week would have included new $1,200 stimulus checks, renew enhanced unemployment benefits, and provide $75 billion for coronavirus testing and tracing, among other provisions.”
In Iowa, Axne has pushed Gov. Kim Reynolds to work with the federal government to increase testing at long-term care facilities — where there currently are COVID-19 outbreaks at 57 facilities — and has sent a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration looking for more information to provide small businesses here how they can apply for loan forgiveness.
“The biggest difficulty,” Axne said, in getting a new legislative package across the finish line has been the president’s aversion to providing funds to state and local governments. Trump continues to falsely insist that Democrats are trying to “bail out” what he describes as poorly managed Democrat-run states.
“I find it interesting that an administration who is hell-bent on saying that Democrats want to defund the police doesn’t want to literally support the economic mechanisms to fund our police, to fund our teachers, to fund those positions that keep our communities safe,” Axne said. “And that’s where we’ve had a huge wedge that’s been really difficult to overcome. Unfortunately, the speaker and the secretary were moving along on that agenda when the president announced an abrupt stop.”
Despite the fact there are some legislative Republicans averse to spending trillions more to help the American people and keep the economy afloat, Axne was confident most in the GOP are willing to vote for legislation that has bipartisan support.
“I think there’s support on both sides of the aisle, honestly, to overcome many of those issues,” the congresswoman said. “We just can’t continue to have interruptions like the tweets the president gave, and then, almost ultimatums on what he’ll sign off on, or these conversations will continue to be difficult to get those pieces through. There’s honestly no boiling this down to just making sure this is a skinny package because the problem’s only grown. We’ve got a big problem.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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