By MARIAM KHAN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In a pair of late-night tweets, President Donald Trump, changed course on negotiating coronavirus relief that he had earlier announced he was calling off until after the election.
“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!” he posted shortly before 10 p.m.
“If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” he posted about 20 minutes later.
The late-night change came after a surprise announcement that he was calling off the talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19. We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith. I am rejecting their……request, and looking to the future of our Country,” Trump tweeted earlier on Tuesday.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business. I have asked…… @senatemajldr Mitch McConnell not to delay, but to instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Our Economy is doing very well. The Stock Market is at record levels, JOBS and unemployment…..also coming back in record numbers. We are leading the World in Economic Recovery, and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!” he said.
Financial markets dropped sharply on the news.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were negotiating in recent days and indicated several times that they were close to reaching a deal. They met at her office at the Capitol for 90 minutes last week, followed by a series of phone calls later in the week. Pelosi and Mnuchin traded papers on Monday but key differences still remained on liability insurance and funding for local and state governments, according to a source familiar with the talks.
Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke again by phone Tuesday afternoon just after the president called off negotiations. Mnuchin, according to Pelosi’s office, confirmed that talks were off.
“The Secretary confirmed that the President has walked away from COVID talks. The Speaker expressed her disappointment in the President’s decision to abandon the economic & health needs of the American people,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet.
In a statement, Pelosi blasted the White House as being in “complete disarray.”
“Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress. Walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus, as is required by the Heroes Act. He shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes – in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers and others – and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check,” Pelosi said.
“Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray. Sadly, they are rejecting the urgent warnings of Fed Chairman Powell today, that ‘Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses. Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy and holding back wage growth. By contrast, the risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller. Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste,” she said.
House Democrats were on a private caucus call Tuesday afternoon as the news broke that negotiations were called off by the president. Some Democrats were stunned at the news, given that the lead negotiators appeared to be on the brink of a deal, according to sources on the call.
Pelosi, on the private call, even questioned the president’s mental capacity given his recent usage of steroids as he battles the coronavirus, sources familiar with the call told ABC News.
“Believe me, there are people who thought, who think that steroids have an impact on your thinking. So, I don’t know. I do practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, as a mother and a grandmother, but I hadn’t gone into mental health yet. I haven’t had to do that,” Pelosi said, according to an official on the call.
Trump’s announcement came just hours after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a speech that more stimulus was needed to help boost the economy.
“Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,” Powell said in a speech at a virtual annual meeting held by the National Association for Business Economics. “Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden released a lengthy statement on Tuesday evening blasting Trump for canceling the negotiations, saying Trump’s actions make it clear that the plight of small businesses, frontline workers and unemployed families struggling to get by don’t matter to him.
“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden wrote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday at the Capitol that he supports Trump’s decision to end negotiations.
“I think his view was that they were not going to produce a result and we needed to concentrate on what’s achievable,” McConnell said.
Asked if he supported Trump’s decision, McConnell said: “I did.”
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