Trump pushes for major COVID-19 deal over Senate Republican objections
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday pushed for a comprehensive COVID-19 bailout, saying he would accept a deal worth more than $ 2.2 trillion despite his Senate Republicans' major spending measures reject.
"I want to make it bigger than the Democrats," Trump said in an interview with Fox News as talks between House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin neared a Tuesday deadline for a bipartisan deal reach that could pass Congress before election day on November 3rd.
The White House has proposed $ 1.8 trillion for coronavirus relief, while Pelosi is pushing for $ 2.2 trillion.
Senate Republicans have repeatedly expressed opposition to additional COVID-19 aid spending near the $ 2 trillion mark, and instead focused on smaller initiatives.
Republicans prepared to propose legislation Tuesday to help small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 8.2 million Americans, killed over 220,000 people and made millions unemployed.
Trump predicted that if Mnuchin and Pelosi reached a non-partisan deal, Senate Republicans would be in line.
"Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will," he said. Trump added that he specifically expects the support of Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "He will be on board when something comes."
But a senior Senate Republican John Thune on Monday expressed doubts that there would be enough Senate Republican votes to pass a sweeping bill as big as the White House proposal, let alone anything bigger than it that of Pelosi.
"It would be hard," Thune, the Senate Republican whip, told reporters.
Trump said he was ready to accept a deal that was passed with mostly Democratic backing: "I would take whatever votes you could get, whether it's Democrats or Republicans ... I'm OK with that."
Pelosi and Mnuchin, who have been negotiating a new coronavirus relief plan at times since August, wanted to speak again on Tuesday.
Each new incentive would come on top of $ 3 trillion in coronavirus aid that Congress approved earlier this year.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday will propose a new round of funding just for the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular program launched earlier during the pandemic with bilateral support to provide loans to small businesses.
The move is not expected to move forward as Senate Democrats have already announced that they consider such targeted efforts to be inadequate.
McConnell said the Senate also plans to include a vote on Wednesday on a Republican proposal of more than $ 500 billion to include unemployment benefits and school benefits. It would give people $ 300 weekly unemployment benefits, while the Democrats want to return to $ 600 weekly levels in a move approved earlier this year.
The Democrats blocked a similar Republican proposal last month, and Wednesday's move is also expected to fail.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O'Brien and Bernadette Baum)
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