WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump acknowledged on Tuesday that a coronavirus economic relief deal would likely come after the Nov. 3 election, with the White House unable to bridge differences with fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate as well as congressional Democrats.
“After the election we’ll get the best stimulus package you’ve ever seen,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving on a campaign trip.
Trump and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi have traded blame for the impasse over another large stimulus package worth around $2 trillion to help Americans weather the pandemic.
“We’ll always talk about it because our people should get it, the stimulus, but Nancy Pelosi is only interested in bailing out badly run, crime-ridden Democrat cities and states,” Trump said.
Pelosi in turn pointed to the assertion by Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows on Sunday that the administration was not going to control the pandemic. “The White House and (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell have resisted, and on Sunday, Mark Meadows told us why,” she said in a letter to Democratic House members.
“The President’s words only have meaning if he can get Mitch McConnell to take his hand off the pause button,” Pelosi wrote.
Pelosi, the top elected Democrat, led the House to pass a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill in May, but Republicans who control the Senate balked at another large bill. They pushed a much smaller measure, which failed, then left Washington after confirming Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, to the Supreme Court.
The White House has said aid to state and local governments has been the main sticking point in the talks, while Democrats also cited the lack of a national coronavirus testing plan.
Infections are surging again in the United States and 36 out of 50 states have seen an increase for at least two weeks in a row, according to the Reuters analysis. Deaths have also more than doubled in seven states.
On Monday, Pelosi’s spokesman said she was hopeful an agreement could be reached before the elections.
But the White House began tamping down expectations for a major package before the vote.
“The chances are slim,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox Business Network.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio and Grant McCool)