On Oct. 6, President Trump in a tweet ordered Republican legislators to stand down from the negotiations on the next round of federal stimulus until after the election. Hours later he seemed to reverse himself, calling for parts of the legislation to be passed, and his current proposal of up to $2.2 trillion in aid has drawn criticism from both sides. Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour.

REPORTS THAT NEGOTIATIONS over a new federal stimulus bill are dead until after the election were apparently premature. While Republican and Democrat leadership is still talking about a new bill, however, an agreement remains elusive.

Last week, President Trump in an Oct. 6 tweet ordered Republican legislators to stand down from the negotiations until after the election, saying the Democrats’ demand for $2.4 trillion instead of the Republican’s $1.6 trillion would send money to “to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States.” A few hours later, Trump seemed to reverse course and said he would sign elements of the stimulus, including $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, if they were sent to him.

As of Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent a new proposal from the administration for $1.8 trillion, according to the Washington Post newspaper.  By Sunday, there was talk that the amount of Trump’s counter offer might rise as high as $2.2 trillion, a number that drew fire from Republicans, while Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the offer did too little to address the pandemic that has wrecked the economy in the first place, according to Politico.

“It is hard to understand who is shaping their approach, which to date has been a miserable and deadly failure,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers released on Sunday. “Until these serious issues are resolved, we remain at an impasse.”

The U.S. Travel Association joined other groups, such as AAHOA and  the American Hotel and Lodging Association, in condemning Congress’ lack of action on the stimulus package.

“With millions of Americans suffering, it is woefully shortsighted to end relief negotiations,” said Roger Dow, USTA president and CEO. “New data from Tourism Economics shows that, without immediate aid, 50 percent of all travel-supported jobs will be lost by December—an additional loss of 1.3 million jobs. As travel supported 11 percent of all pre-pandemic jobs, it is simply not possible for the U.S. to expect a nationwide economic recovery without meaningful federal relief.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration did release a simplified loan forgiveness application for PPP loans of $50,000 or less.

“The PPP has provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to American small businesses, providing critical economic relief and supporting more than 51 million jobs,” Mnuchin said in a statement.  “Today’s action streamlines the forgiveness process for PPP borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less and thousands of PPP lenders who worked around the clock to process loans quickly.  We are committed to making the PPP forgiveness process as simple as possible while also protecting against fraud and misuse of funds.  We continue to favor additional legislation to further simplify the forgiveness process.”