Economic relief talks are back on, Trump asserts, two days after he cut them off

He said he believes Pelosi “wants it to happen, because it’s so good for our country, we really need it.”

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have begun negotiating over a bill to rescue airlines, with United and American furloughing more than 30,000 workers after federal payroll support measures expired last week.

Pelosi has not indicated publicly that other issues beyond airline aid are on the table right now, after Trump pulled the plug Tuesday on talks on a comprehensive relief bill with a pricetag between $1.6 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

But Trump said Thursday that other issues were also being discussed, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks. The labor market remains weak, with another 840,000 Americans filing for unemployment claims last week, more than six months after the coronavirus pandemic began in the United States.

“We’re talking about airlines and 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,” Trump said. “But it’s not anybody’s fault, they were trying to get things, and we were trying to get things and it wasn’t going anywhere, I shut it down. I don’t want to play games. And then we reopened, and I see the markets are doing well but I think we have a really good chance of doing something.”

It remains highly uncertain that any deal can be reached, on airlines or anything else. Talks have been on again and off again for months, but ultimately Congress and the administration have been unable to strike a deal since the spring when they passed around $3 trillion in aid.

Multiple programs approved at that time have since expired, including enhanced unemployment insurance for individuals. It’s not clear whether congressional Democrats would be willing to support a deal that just helped airlines, although Pelosi sounded out some lawmakers at a meeting Wednesday night, with some sounding open to entertaining the idea because of the jobs at stake.

The Cares Act from March included a Payroll Support Program for airlines that expired Oct. 1. Democrats have been pushing an approximately $25 billion bill to renew the program.

Trump began backtracking within hours Tuesday after his announcement that he was ending talks and asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to focus on filling the Supreme Court vacancy instead. A number of Republicans in tough re-election races immediately criticized Trump’s move and urged him to re-engage.

Pelosi has rejected the idea of another round of stimulus checks absent broader relief.

“All the president wants is his name on a check,” the speaker told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. “And that doesn’t — we’re here to honor our heroes, crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people beyond a check with his name on it.”

However Trump said he was hopeful the talks would bear fruit even though he commented that Pelosi is “not my favorite person, she impeached me for no reason.”