Trump Sidelines Himself as Negotiations for Stimulus Bill Intensify

By: Leyuan Zhou

At the beginning of this week, President Trump was not trying to persuade lawmakers to pass a critical stimulus bill that would stabilize the sinking economy; instead, he was at the White House berating the Democratic leaders whose support he needed to strike a deal.

Mr. Trump criticized the Democrats on Monday, after returning from a weekend at his golf course in Virginia. “All they’re really interested in is bailout money to bail out radical left governors and radical left mayors in Portland and places that are badly run – Chicago, New York City.” Mr. Trump said. He accused the Democrats for being blinded by “bailout money” as opposed to extending unemployment benefits.

The insulting comments came as Mr. Trump’s advisors were holding a meeting in Capitol Hill with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Both parties were searching for the perfect yet elusive stimulus deal, but they knew how absent the president had been in those discussions.

Mr. Trump called Ms. Pelosi “Crazy Nancy,” claiming that she was not interested in helping the unemployed. Additionally, he said that Mr. Schumer, the Democratic leader, only wanted to help “radical left” governors in majority Democrat-run states.

This is the first full week in which tens of millions of Americans will go without the federal jobless aid that supported them through the pandemic. Negotiations between both parties, Democratic and Republican, are crucial and will have to be successful in order to pass another stimulus bill. President Trump also threatened to skip the delicate discussion that would bring a compromise, and instead warned to unilaterally impose a federal eviction moratorium.

The meeting between the president’s advisors and the Democratic leaders called attention to the main role that Mr. Trump has taken in assembling an economic relief package for the country. Just three months before the November election, he appears to be hiding behind the sidelines in ways that might hinder a compromise.

This past Monday, the president asserted that he was “totally involved” in the negotiations to produce a deal, even though he was not physically “over there with Crazy Nancy.” However, while White House officials say that he is closely monitoring the talks, he has complicated the sensitive negotiations by not using the powers of his office.

Although White House officials and Democratic leaders reported some progress over the weekend in their talks, the two parties still maintain substantial differences. On one hand, the Democrats are pressing to keep the enhanced federal unemployment payments. This includes providing the money to bail out impoverished states and cities, support schools around the country, and extend health care and food aid funds. On the other hand, Republicans want to scale back the jobless money. Devoting $105 billion to schools and including a broad liability shield to protect businesses from being held accountable for the spread of the virus would be more ideal for them.

The process of striking another stimulus bill will ultimately prove to be messy, but some lawmakers still see the glimmers of hope in a possible bargain.

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