Trump Pushed Aides to Seek a Trillion Dollars in Virus Response

President Donald Trump encouraged aides to enhance an $850 billion stimulus package to address the coronavirus crisis, telling them to go big and bump the number up to a trillion dollars, people familiar with the matter say.

Trump’s request, delivered at a White House meeting late Monday evening, further spurred Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchinand other officials to expand the package being sought from Congress.

Aides had brought Trump a package of $850 billion in stimulus proposals for the coronavirus. He told them they should go big if they actually wanted to go big and threw out the number of $1 trillion, three officials familiar with the discussion said.

At least one official thought Trump simply preferred the sound of $1 trillion for an announcement so momentous – but aides quickly found items to add to the package that actually pushed the total to as high as $1.2 trillion.

News of Trump’s proposal — a stimulus wish list intended to calm an anxious public and beleaguered markets — trickled out Tuesday before Mnuchin’s meeting with Republican senators, and the number climbed from $850 billion, to a trillion.

“It is a big number. This is very big situation in this economy,” Mnuchin said Tuesday.

The $1 trillion proposal includes $250 billion in checks to be sent out in April, if approved, plus another round a month later, totaling $500 billion, officials familiar with the proposal said.

The remainder would be $300 billion in support for small business and $200 billion in backstops for airlines, hotels and other major industries affected by the virus.

Mnuchin also announced tax deferments at the briefing, which could push the total to $1.2 trillion, officials said.

The White House has not broken down its proposed figure in detail. Any final plan requires approval from Congress.

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