WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump shot down the massive new Democratic coronavirus relief package ahead of a planned House vote Friday.
"DOA. Dead on arrival. Of course, Nancy Pelosi knows that," he told reporters Wednesday at the White House.
About one-third of the $3 trillion legislation is relief for state, local and tribal governments, which many Republicans are resisting. The measure also includes assistance to essential workers, an extension of unemployment insurance beyond July, another round of $1,200 direct cash payments and various other measures that are unlikely to gain bipartisan support but serve as an opening bid for Democrats.
Trump ripped into election-related provisions that would require 15 consecutive days of early voting and the option for every American to vote by mail through an absentee ballot, rules that would take effect starting in the 2020 presidential contest.
"Mail-in ballots is subject to tremendous corruption. Tremendous corruption, cheating. And so I'm against it," Trump said. "And if you look at the bill that Nancy Pelosi is putting in, it has a lot to do with elections. We're not going to lose elections because of that."
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S., according to numerous studies, investigations and testimonials from election officials in states that vote by mail. Trump said recently that he is among the Americans who has voted by mail.
Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, D-Calif., the speaker of the House, responded to Trump.
"On the day that Fed Chair [Jerome] Powell warns of deepening and long-term economic damage unless more coronavirus aid is signed into law, President Trump shouldn't be standing in the way of desperately needed help for American families," he said in a message to NBC News.
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While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has endorsed the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called it "aspirational" and didn't indicate whether or when the Senate would consider more relief.
"I'm in discussion, we all are, with the administration. If we reach a decision along with the administration to move to another phase, that'll be the time to interact with the Democrats," McConnell told reporters Wednesday. "We're going to insist on doing narrowly targeted legislation if and when we do legislate again."
The legislation, which is expected to pass the Democratic-led House, is designed to pressure the Republican-controlled Senate to begin negotiations on additional recovery efforts as COVID-19 continues to claim U.S. lives and ravage the economy.
One provision that McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have demanded is a liability shield for employers as the economy reopens, calling such a measure "absolutely essential" to guard against "frivolous lawsuits."