President Trump spurred confusion with a series of late-night tweets on Tuesday that appeared to contradict his plan to freeze coronavirus aid talks until after the November election.
“The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business,” Trump tweeted just over 24 hours after he was released from the hospital, saying that unused funds from the Cares Act would cover the cost. He also called on Congress to approve a stand-alone bill for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, writing, “I am ready to sign right now.”
The apparent about-face came just hours after Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to cut off talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) until after the November election, claiming that Democrats had failed to negotiate in good faith. His tweets did not make clear whether he was rethinking that position and if his administration would continue talks after all. It’s also unclear whether his call to action would gain any traction: Over the course of many rounds of negotiations, Pelosi has typically expressed opposition to Trump’s piecemeal approach and insisted on holding out for a broader aid package.
Trump’s decision to abruptly cut off aid talks sent the stock market reeling Tuesday and came just hours after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell warned that failing to provide more support to American households would severely damage the economy. Pelosi speculated in a Tuesday conference call that the sudden shift in Trump’s thinking could be a side effect of the steroids that he is taking to treat covid-19, The Washington Post reported.