US President Donald Trump has called for Congress to pass a "big and focused" Covid-19 relief bill as the number of confirmed cases continued to surge across the country. "Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill. Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done," Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a tweet on Saturday.
Trump's comments came after the US reported an all-time high of nearly 200,000 new cases on November 12, setting a new record for the fifth time in a week. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on November 13 also called the resurgence a "red alert" that requires "all hands on deck" in Congress.
"Our focus in the Congress, now in this lame duck, continues to be on COVID-19 relief. This is a red alert," Pelosi said at a press briefing. "We must save lives and livelihoods, and yet Republicans in Congress continue their tactics of delay, distort, and deny, which has led to deaths."
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating a new Covid-19 relief package for months, but have failed to reach an agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also renewed his push for a focused, targeted Covid-19 relief, and denounced Democrats' proposal as "absurd" and "socialist."
The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in early October passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill. Some Senate Republicans, however, insisted on a relief package below $1 trillion, and failed to advance a $500 billion bill in late October.
Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have repeatedly argued that more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the US economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.