After saying he wanted a more targeted pandemic relief package including aid to airlines and individual checks for taxpayers, Donald Trump now says he wants a “bigger deal” and is telling negotiators to get to work on it.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been negotiating with the White House on pandemic relief, is putting a damper on the idea of airline relief unless it’s part of her $2.2 trillion aid package. And several GOP senators are also cool to the idea.
“I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they’re starting to work out,” Trump said in the phone interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo.
“We’re talking about airlines and we’re talking about a bigger deal than airlines,” he said.
Republican Senators Pat Toomey and Mike Lee want to slow things down.
“Consideration of legislation providing grants to the airlines should not happen unless there are adequate protections for taxpayers and the opportunity to offer related amendments,” they said in a statement.
The two GOP senators said airlines, instead of another round of aid, should first apply for loans under the March $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March provided $25 billion in loans and loan guarantees and $25 billion in direct grants to passenger airlines.
“No one wants to see layoffs, but we have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer resources are used in an appropriate and equitable manner,” Toomey and Lee said.
Imagine that. GOP lawmakers who actually worry about a “responsibility” to the taxpayer.
But Pelosi is adamant: no responsible lawmaking—give us the whole shebang.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats will not accept a piecemeal approach to coronavirus relief that benefits only a sliver of suffering Americans without assurances from the White House that President Trump will support a much larger comprehensive aid package.
“The comment I made to the administration last night was: We’re happy to review what that standalone bill would look like as part of a bigger bill — if there is a bigger bill,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “But there is no standalone bill.”
The gargantuan $2.2 trillion bill Pelosi wants has so many ornaments and so much tinsel in it that taxpayers would think it’s Christmas. That’s why Trump actually has the right solution: the “piecemeal” approach that would send aid bills to his desk incrementally. Pelosi is hoping panic and desperation give her the public support to pass a huge relief bill.
But the responsible approach is to take each issue—airlines, state and local governments, renters and landlords, mortgage holders, and any other industry in danger of suffering enormous losses—one at a time. It would take a little longer, but I’m sure it would be less than $2.2 trillion.
But that’s the hard way of doing things in Washington and lawmakers don’t like things to be hard.
It’s pretty late in the game to be trying to rush a relief bill through Congress. Trump should probably lick his wounds and withdraw.