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Trump Touts Progress in Stimulus Talks Days After Spiking Them

President Donald Trump said talks on providing additional fiscal stimulus are now “starting to work out,” after he pulled his side out of negotiations earlier this week.

“I think we have a really good chance of doing something,” Trump said Thursday morning in a live interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. There are now “very productive talks” on coronavirus relief, he said.

Months of hard-fought negotiations on a stimulus package to shore up a slowing economic recovery came to an abrupt end Tuesday, when Trump pulled his team out of the talks. He then called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send him standalone assistance bills, including for airlines and individual stimulus checks.

Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held phone calls Wednesday on potential aid for the airline industry, but the speaker’s receptiveness didn’t appear to extend to other elements of what was to have been a comprehensive relief package.

Pelosi on Wednesday rejected pressure from Trump to green-light a bill authorizing $1,200 individual stimulus checks, saying that was insufficient to address the Covid-19 challenge.

Multiple Items

Trump claimed Thursday morning that those checks, and other measures, are on the table, however.

“We started talking again. And we’re talking about airlines and we’re talking about a bigger deal than airlines,” Trump said. “We’re talking about a deal with $1,200 per person, we’re talking about other things.”

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted Wednesday that the speaker and Mnuchin agreed to talk again Thursday.

Continuing hopes for a stimulus deal have contributed to gains in stocks since they tanked in the wake of Trump’s announcement Tuesday about pulling out of the talks. S&P 500 Index futures were up 0.6% as of 8:50 a.m. in New York.

Airline Bill

Mnuchin’s calls Wednesday underscored the Trump administration’s concern about the state of the airline industry, which has been walloped by the Covid-19 crisis and seen tens of thousands of job cuts. Carriers have furloughed about 38,000 people since Oct. 1, including major layoffs at American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc.

An airline bill could be approved as soon as this week, but it would take unanimous consent in both the House and Senate to do so.

A government report Thursday showcased the continuing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the job market, with 840,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance in the most recent week in regular state programs. That’s more than quadruple the level before the pandemic hit, and higher than the peak of the 2007-09 recession.

Federal Reserve officials led by Chairman Jerome Powell this week stepped up their calls for a broad relief package to help the unemployed and endangered businesses, highlighting concern about undermining the economic recovery.

During an appearance Wednesday on ABC’s “The View,” Pelosi didn’t explicitly shut the door on continuing negotiations with Trump and the administration, or potential measures focused on new stimulus checks, aid for airlines or other issues.

But she did disparage the idea of just sending stimulus checks without the other relief Democrats have been seeking.

“Well it’s hard to see any clear sane path in anything that he is doing. But the fact is, is that he saw the political downside of his statement of walking away from the negotiations,” said Pelosi of Trump. “All he has ever wanted in negotiation was to send out a check with his name printed on it. Forget about the virus.”

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