U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday called for Congress to pass a “big and focused” COVID-19 relief bill as confirmed cases are surging across the country.
“Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!” Trump said on Twitter. Trump’s comments came after the United States reported an all-time high of nearly 200,000 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, setting a new record for the fifth time in a week.
.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday also called the surging COVID-19 cases a “red alert” that requires “all hands on deck” in Congress. “Our focus in the Congress, now in this lame duck, continues to be on COVID-19 relief.
This is a red alert,” Pelosi said at a press briefing. “We must save lives and livelihoods, and yet Republicans in Congress continue their tactics of delay, distort, and deny, which has led to deaths,” Pelosi said, adding over 10 million Americans have been infected and 240,000 people have died because of this pandemic.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating a new COVID-19 relief package for months, but have failed to reach an agreement. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday renewed his push for a focused, targeted COVID-19 relief, and denounced Democrats’ proposal as “absurd” and “socialist.”
“Our country needs more smart, focused relief that is targeted to schools, healthcare, small businesses, & those who are hurting the most,” McConnell said in a tweet.
The Democrats-controlled House of Representatives in early October passed a 2.2-trillion-U.S.-dollar relief bill. Some Senate Republicans, however, insisted on a relief package below 1 trillion dollars, and failed to advance a 500-billion-dollar bill in late October.
Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have repeatedly argued that more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the U.S. economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.