250,000 Dead. Where Are Trump and Congress?
Health Care

250,000 Dead. Where Are Trump and Congress?

A stimulus deal, much like the president, remains out of sight.

Reuters/Carlos Barria

President Trump had no public events scheduled for Wednesday. It was the same on Tuesday, when The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted that the president’s public calendar has been empty for 10 of the 14 days since Election Day — make it 11 of 15 now — though Trump had held six events, played four rounds of golf and tweeted or retweeted some 400 times over that time while fuming over his election loss. Trump also canceled plans to travel to his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida for Thanksgiving.

"It feels like bunker mentality," one White House official told CNN.

Politico asked, “Is Trump done being president?”

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, with new U.S. cases up 29% over the past week, total confirmed cases now topping 11.4 million and 1,707 new Covid-19 deaths reported just on Tuesday. Total U.S coronavirus-related deaths just surpassed 250,000.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” Wednesday that Trump is “hard at work on Covid, among other issues” and that the country would hear from him “at the right moment.”

That lack of engagement apparently extends to coronavirus relief legislation. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters Wednesday that any additional discussions on a stimulus package would be up to Congress. “Obviously those discussions -- if they happen -- will be dictated by the House and the Senate,” Meadows said, according to Bloomberg News. “We haven’t seen a real willingness by our House colleagues to look at that.”

Meadows, who met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday, said that getting a stimulus deal “has been a priority for the president,” but Bloomberg’s Erik Wasson and Laura Litvan note that the chief of staff’s remarks “are further evidence that the White House is pulling back from the discussions after Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden.”

Congress and the White House also have to approve new spending legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown after December 11, when current federal funding expires. Meadows told reporters that it’s a “high priority” to keep the government funded, but said he “can’t guarantee” a deal will be reached.

McConnell again slams Democratic stimulus plan: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote to McConnell on Tuesday, asking him to “come to the table” to negotiate coronavirus relief legislation.

The GOP leader reportedly has not responded to the letter, but he reiterated this week that he remains open to a “targeted” bill of about $500 billion and he again criticized the Democrat’s much larger bill. “Huge tax cuts for rich people in blue states, but no second round of the Paycheck Protection Program? Those are their priorities?” McConnell said Tuesday. He described Democrats’ insistence on additional aid for state and local governments as a “fixation on a massive slush fund … unlinked from COVID need.” He followed up in additional remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday: “The problem is that their proposal is a multi-trillion dollar laughingstock that never had a chance of becoming law.”

The bottom line: Lawmakers are reportedly optimistic about passing funding legislation. “We are on a good path to do that,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday. But a stimulus deal, much like the president, remains out of sight.