President Donald Trump said stimulus negotiations are “starting to work out” on Thursday morning after abruptly calling off the talks less than two days earlier.
“Well, I shut down talks two days ago because they weren't working out,” the president told Fox Business on Thursday morning. “Now they are starting to work out, we're starting to have some very productive talks. I believe [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] wants it to happen because it’s so good for our country — we really need it.”
Pelosi (D-Calif.) echoed Trump’s comments a couple of hours later, telling reporters: “I am hopeful because it has to be done.” Pelosi later added: “We’re at the table. We want to continue the conversation. We’ve made some progress. We’re exchanging language.”
After directing his representatives to end the stimulus negotiations on Tuesday afternoon, Trump took to Twitter a few hours later pushing for standalone stimulus bills in the form of a second round of stimulus checks, $25 billion in relief for airlines, and $135 billion for the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) related to small businesses.
Pelosi, who previously signaled a willingness to work on a deal on airline relief, said on Thursday that a standalone bill won’t be passed unless it’s a part of a bigger package.
“I have been very open to having a standalone bill for the airlines or part of a bigger bill,” she said. “But there is no standalone bill without a bigger bill.”
President Trump also signaled openness to a bigger deal.
“We're talking about a bigger deal than airlines, we're talking about a deal with $1,200 per person, we're talking about other things,” the president told Fox Business. “I think we have a really good chance of doing something.”
‘He could walk back’
Sticking points for any deal between the White House and Democrats include extra unemployment benefits, funding for schools, aid for state and local governments, child care support, funding for increased testing and tracing, and funding for other appropriations.
The offer the president turned down on Tuesday was the $2.2 trillion updated HEROES Act that passed the House last week. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been speaking regularly in an effort to craft legislation that could pass both the Democratic-controlled House and GOP-controlled Senate.
The Democrats’ $2.2 trillion stimulus proposal includes $436 billion for state and local governments, $282 billion for education and child care, a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, an extra $600 of unemployment benefits through January, and other provisions.
The updated HEROES Act still has a much higher price tag than the White House’s roughly $1.6 trillion proposal. Nonetheless, the president stated: “I think we have a really good chance of doing something.”
But while Trump may be willing to walk back on him ending the stimulus negotiations, there are still many Republican lawmakers unwilling to agree on the price tag on the provisions of the Democratic proposal.
“I don't think [Trump] feels particularly wedded to the [official White House] position if he believes that [the stimulus deal] ultimately would help,” Mark Harkins, a former congressional staffer and senior fellow at Georgetown’s Government Affairs Institute, told Yahoo Money. “But I think that the case that having a deal right now is going to cost us the Senate is one that's being pitched to him by the majority leader, and I think that message is resonating.”