President Donald Trump said Friday he’s in “no rush” to negotiate another financial rescue bill, even as the government reported that more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs last month due to economic upheaval caused by the coronavirus.
The president’s low-key approach came as the Labor Department reported the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression and as Democrats prepared to unveil what Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer calls a “Rooseveltian-style” aid package to shore up the economy and address the health crisis.
Some congressional conservatives, meanwhile, who set aside long-held opposition to deficits to pass more than $2 trillion in relief so far, have expressed reservations about another massive spending package.
“We’ve kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council told reporters Friday. He said the administration wanted to let the last round of recovery funding kick in before committing to hundreds of billions or more in additional spending. “Let’s have a look at what the latest round produces, give it a month or so to evaluate that.”
Kudlow added that talks were in a “lull” and that administration officials and legislators would “regroup” in the next several weeks.
Still, White House aides are drawing up a wish-list for a future spending bill, including a payroll tax cut, liability protection for businesses that reopen and potentially billions in infrastructure spending.
Kudlow added that the White House was also considering allowing businesses to immediately expense the costs of modifiying their facilities to accommodate public safety measures necessary to reopen. The notion was brought up on a call with House members advising the White House on reopening plans Thursday evening and drew bipartisan support.
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“We’re in no rush, we’re in no rush,” Trump told reporters Friday during an event with House Republicans. He called on Democratic-controlled House to return to Washington, adding, “We want to see what they have.”
The emerging Democratic bill is expected to include eye-popping sums, centered on nearly $1 trillion that states and cities are seeking to prevent mass layoffs as governments reel from the one-two punch of skyrocketing costs from the pandemic and dismal tax receipts in the shuttered economy.
The package being compiled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -– the fifth from Congress in a matter of weeks — draws on requests from governors for $500 billion, and from cities and counties for up to $300 billion to prevent widespread layoffs of police, fire and other frontline workers during the pandemic.
“No one could look at today’s jobs report, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, and say we should hit the pause button on further government action,” Schumer said in a statement.