Trump blames Democrats for not going bigger on Covid stimulus as Senate GOP haggles for lower price

President says Pelosi has ‘mental problems’

Griffin Connolly
Washington
Thursday 15 October 2020 17:53
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Donald Trump has said he is willing to blow past the $2.2trn price tag on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s latest coronavirus stimulus offer.

That would be fine by Ms Pelosi, whose House Democratic caucus passed a $3.4trn package as far back as May, a bill that has languished in the GOP-controlled Senate.

But its penny-pinchers in his own party whom Mr Trump has to negotiate with — not Ms Pelosi: As Mr Trump urges Congress to “go big” on a Covid-19 relief deal, Senate Republicans have teed up a vote on a bill next week worth just roughly a quarter of the administration’s latest $1.8trn offer.

In an interview on Fox Business on Thursday, the president told host Stuart Varney he would not pick up the phone to call Ms Pelosi himself because she has “mental problems,” suggesting it wouldn’t be worth his time.

“Sure I would. But it’s — I know my people, I know life. She’s got a lot of problems. She’s got a lot of mental problems. It’s going to be very hard to do anything with her. She wants to wait until after the election. She thinks it hurts the Republicans, but I don’t — I think it hurts [the Democrats].”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose Republican colleagues have balked at the price tag of the White House’s latest $1.8trn offer, has sought to put the pressure back on Democrats by bringing a “targeted” bill to the Senate floor that would inject roughly $500bn into key Treasury Department programmes aimed at helping keep small businesses afloat during the pandemic.

“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families. The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the [Paycheck Protection Program] before more Americans lose their jobs needlessly,” Mr McConnell said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the GOP’s decision to press forward with a new bill.

While Mr Trump has publicly pined for a comprehensive package to address the coronavirus crisis — as has Ms Pelosi — Senate Republicans and even his own White House aides have repeatedly undercut that message, saying Congress ought to tackle problems arising from the pandemic individually, as they come.

Ms Pelosi has harangued Mr McConnell for his stated strategy to “hit the pause button” on coronavirus relief talks this summer, only to come back to Washington in late July with no clear path forward among members of his own party, some of whom are desperate to ink a deal before their own elections this November and others who have rediscovered their conservative instincts against federal spending.

“He's never taken this seriously. Probably the most honest thing he's done is laugh in public about it to show his true colors. It's really so tragic,” Ms Pelosi said, referring to a clip from Mr McConnell’s debate with Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Amy McGrath where the leader laughed through criticism of his inaction this summer on Covid-19 legislation.

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