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Formal Talks Paused On Next Stimulus Package, Trump Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow Says

House Democrats are working on a plan to provide new aid for states and cities, additional money for households. Formal Talks Paused on Next Stimulus Package, Trump Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow Says

A top economic adviser to President Trump said formal negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package won’t resume until late May or early June, as the administration takes a wait-and-see approach on further spending.

“We’re kind of paused as far as formal negotiations go,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the White House’s National Economic Council, told reporters on Friday.

Mr. Kudlow said the administration is continuing to have informal conversations with lawmakers, noting that he and Kevin Hassett, another economic adviser to the president, spoke by phone with several dozen House lawmakers on Thursday.

The comments come as top House Democrats are working on their next aid proposal, which is expected to include hundreds of billions of dollars in new aid for states and cities, as well as additional money for households.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has called for a pause on new aid and has been cool to the idea of more money for states and cities. In the next round of talks, he is prioritizing a liability shield for businesses operating during the pandemic, calling it Republicans’ must-have “red line.”

The president has pushed to include infrastructure improvements and a payroll tax cut in the next round of economic stimulus, but those proposals have gained little traction on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have approved more than $3 trillion in spending over several bills to combat the virus and the economic crisis it unleashed. Congressional Republicans have suggested waiting until the money that Congress has appropriated is distributed, citing concerns about spending and deficits.

“We’ll see what happens,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) said on Thursday. “You know, I think we ought to see how this money is being spent and I hope it’s spent wisely.”

Trump administration officials said they would weigh what steps to take next in the coming weeks, as more states begin to reopen businesses and loosen stay-at-home orders. Mr. Kudlow said the administration would determine how best to approach the next stimulus package in late May or early June.

“We just had another big infusion. We put all this money in, which is fine. It’s well worth it. Let’s see what happens,” he said. “As we move into the reopening phase this month, maybe spillover to June, let’s have a look at it before we decide who, what, where when.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Mr. Trump was looking forward to talks.

“I think it’s important for us to move and look at a Phase 4,” she said, referring to the next round. “The president thinks so too. So those negotiations will happen.”

The outbreak has killed more than 75,000 people in the U.S. The employment data out Friday showed a record 20.5 million job losses in April and the unemployment rate jumping to 14.7%.

In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has been drafting legislation without negotiating with the administration or Senate Republicans, as has happened in recent bills.

“We have to start someplace, and, rather than starting in a way that does not meet the needs of the American people, we want to set a standard,” she told reporters on Thursday, noting that she expected to negotiate with the administration at some point. “And, again, we need a presidential signature, so at some point we’ll have to come to agreement.”

The bill being drafted by Democratic leadership is expected to include more than $750 billion in aid to state and local governments, as well as another round of direct support to Americans, according to interviews with lawmakers and aides. Leaders also said they are interested in extending enhanced unemployment benefits, but haven’t provided specifics.

House Democrats also want to increase access to coronavirus testing; send money toward vote-by-mail programs and the Postal Service; provide safety protections for front-line workers who are at risk of contracting and spreading the virus and expand Americans’ broadband internet access. They hope to have the bill ready next week.

The House has been out of regular session since mid-March, returning only to vote on legislation that was already negotiated with the administration and the Senate. House Democratic leaders said they haven’t brought lawmakers back full-time due to safety concerns.

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