WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday said he was not optimistic that a comprehensive deal could be reached on further COVID-19 financial aid and that the Trump administration backed a more piecemeal approach, even as he said negotiations with Congress were over.
“We’re still willing to be engaged, but I’m not optimistic for a comprehensive deal. I am optimistic that there’s about 10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis,” Meadows told Fox News in an interview.
Meadows did not say what 10 items the administration wanted to tackle, but reiterated President Donald Trump’s position tweeted late Tuesday night that he would back separate legislation addressing airlines, small businesses and stimulus checks for individuals.
Trump called off talks with lawmakers on pandemic aid in a tweet on Tuesday, rattling Wall Street as U.S. stocks sank. He later pulled back saying he would support a few stand-alone bills.
U.S. stock indexes appeared set to open higher on Wednesday, and airline stocks were also higher.
“The stimulus negotiations are off,” Meadows later told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “Obviously we’re looking at the potential for stand-alone bills. There’s abut 10 things that we agree on and if the Speaker is willing to look at it on a piece-by-piece basis then we’re willing to look at it,” he said referring to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Democratic-led House has already passed full legislation seeking a wide range of aid as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, infecting an estimated 7.5 million Americans and killing more than 210,600 — the highest in the world.
Pelosi on Tuesday said lawmakers would pass more aid, despite Trump’s refusal to negotiate.
(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Susan Heavey; Editing by Alex Richardson and Chizu Nomiyama)