The Trump administration makes a $1.8 trillion stimulus offer to Democrats, which includes $400 federal unemployment benefits and $1,200 direct payments
President Donald Trump Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images
The Trump administration made a $ 1.8 trillion stimulus offer to Democrats, which they turned down, saying it had not done enough to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
It includes $ 1,200 direct payments, $ 400 weekly federal unemployment benefits, and substantial state grants.
The White House's renewed urge for federal aid ahead of the elections is a marked reversal from three days ago when Trump ended negotiations.
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The Trump administration made a $ 1.8 trillion stimulus offer to Democrats on Friday, the largest to date in its fluid negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But she rejected it, saying it didn't offer a more comprehensive plan for COVID-19 testing.
The White House renews an aggressive urge to pass a government bailout before the elections, just three days after the president closed talks and sparked criticism from some Republicans - a major reversal. However, the Democrats appeared unwilling to accept the government offer.
"Of particular concern is the lack of agreement on a strategic plan to fight the virus," wrote Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill on Twitter after Pelosi spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday.
He continued: "We are waiting for the administration to speak in language for these and other provisions as negotiations on the total amount of funding continue."
Trump advocates a broad economic aid package. During a radio interview on Friday, he suggested he could support a stimulus plan larger than the amount Democrats are aiming for of $ 2.2 trillion. He also wrote on Twitter that the aid package should "make it big".
The package includes numerous measures to provide more government support to individuals and businesses, according to The Washington Post, and names two people familiar with the plan. To keep the price down, the plan used nearly $ 400 billion in unspent aid funds as of the spring.
Some of the provisions include:
$ 1,200 direct adult payments plus $ 1,000 for each dependent child
$ 400 weekly federal unemployment benefit (end date unclear)
$ 300 billion for state and local governments
The latest offer closes a volatile week in business negotiations. Talks between Mnuchin and Pelosi have changed in the last few days from examining a stand-alone rescue law for airlines to reaching an agreement on a major government rescue package.
But Trump's calls for a bigger package clash with the economic disposition of many Republicans. Many GOP senators opposed a $ 1 trillion spending plan introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans earlier this summer, citing concerns about growing national debt.
There was similar GOP opposition to a "lean" stimulus plan that the Democrats ultimately blocked last month.
"I have a significant percentage of my members who believe we have done enough and who are alarmed about the size of the national debt," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a campaign rally in Kentucky Thursday. Given Judge Amy Coney Barrett's ongoing nomination process for the Supreme Court, he was cool about the prospect of passing a stimulus package ahead of Friday's election.
Meanwhile, Pelosi said on MSNBC that Trump's U-turn was triggered by stock slides earlier in the week.
"He's got a terrible backlash, including on the stock market, which interests him," she said. "And then gradually he came back and now a bigger package."
Experts say economic sectors are slowing and permanent layoffs are increasing. Unemployment claims have consistently exceeded 800,000 almost every week since early August, well above pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the latest employment report showed the economy regained 661,000 jobs, a sharp drop from the last three months.
The US still hasn't regained half of the jobs lost in March and April. Legislators approved nearly $ 3 trillion in federal spending when the pandemic hit the economy, causing a tremendous amount of job losses and small business failures.
Many economists across the political spectrum are calling on Congress to approve more government spending to fight the pandemic and keep individuals and businesses alive.
"I'm always concerned about the level of debt, but in this case, I'll say we are at war on this virus," said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director of the Senate Budget Committee, told Business Insider. "With low interest rates, you fight this with all the resources you have."
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