Trump urges Congress to pass a 'big and focused' coronavirus relief bill in 1st stimulus comments since losing the election

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  • Trump pressed Congress to pass another stimulus bill in a tweet on Saturday.
  • “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support,” he wrote on Twitter. “Make it big and focused. Get it done!”
  • His comments were unlikely to break the stalemate on Capitol Hill among Democrats and Republicans, who fiercely disagree on the cost of another stimulus package.
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President Donald Trump called on Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill on Saturday in his first stimulus remarks since losing the election to Joe Biden.

“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” he wrote on Twitter. “Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!”

Trump’s remarks are the first on the subject since Biden won the presidential election. Before November 3, the president constantly called for another stimulus package. At times, Trump suggested he could support a larger plan than the $2.4 trillion in further spending that Democrats wanted.

The White House was negotiating with Democrats on a relief plan but talks collapsed before the election. They haven’t restarted, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now taking the lead on another stimulus bill among Republicans while the White House takes a backseat.

The trajectory of a stimulus package has been fraught with obstacles over the past few months and Trump’s comments were unlikely to break the stalemate on Capitol Hill, even with daily coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging to new highs in recent days. Both parties are pushing for dueling priorities, particularly on the cost of another rescue plan.

The GOP is pressing for a slimmer relief package similar to the $500 billion measure they unveiled in September and October, which Democrats blocked both times. It contained small business aid funding and public health funds, but it omitted stimulus checks and money for cities. 

McConnell has argued the improving economy doesn’t need a significant level of assistance, citing the falling unemployment rate. “I don’t think the current situation demands a multitrillion-dollar package,” the Kentucky Republican said Tuesday.

It appears that another relief package won’t be passed until after Biden takes office in January. The president-elect has been in contact with Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on the matter.

Democrats have called for a large aid plan that includes new federal unemployment benefits, a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, aid to state and local governments as well as health funding among other initiatives. 

“One of the urgent things that need to be done is people need relief right now — right now: small businesses, people who are about to be evicted from their homes because they can’t pay their mortgage, unemployment insurance,” Biden said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Many economists and Federal Reserve officials are prodding Congress to pass a new relief bill as the recovery shows signs of slowing down. With virus cases spiking, some states are enacting new restrictions and ordering business closures to curb the pathogen’s spread.

“The main risk we see to that is clearly the further spread of disease here in the United States,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Thursday. “We’ve got new cases at a record level, we’ve seen a number of states begin to reimpose limited activity restrictions, and people may lose confidence that it is safe to go out.”