President Trump traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to discuss a coronavirus economic stimulus package with Senate Republicans. Any bill would have to be approved by the Democratic-led House, where Trump's big idea, a payroll tax cut, is a nonstarter. So why didn't he also meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)? "Trump and Nancy Pelosi aren't exactly on speaking terms," Politico reports, "so he's deputized Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to handle talks with the speaker."
Senate Republicans are also leery of the payroll tax cut, especially as Trump gave the impression he wants the taxes used to fund Social Security and Medicare slashed to zero, permanently, The Washington Post reports. Pelosi's caucus is already putting together its own bill funding paid sick leave for workers and lunches for students whose schools are closed during the outbreak. Mnuchin "is going to have ball control for the administration, and I expect that will speak for us as well," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after meeting with Trump. "We're hoping that he and the speaker can pull this together."
On MSNBC Tuesday, CNBC's Eamon Javers said the White House doesn't think it "would end well" if Trump met with Pelosi. "It's a tragic statement that because he's so wounded — I mean, we're in the middle of a national crisis, and he can't get in a room with the speaker of the House?" host Nicole Wallace asked. "What the White House would say is, that's Pelosi's fault," Javers said. "Because she ripped up his speech, she's been tough on him, she impeached him, and therefore the president has every right to not want to be in a room with her."
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In fact, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Monday that Trump had declined Pelosi's invitation to attend the annual St. Patrick's Day lunch — a bipartisan tradition that started in 1983 as a fence-mending gathering hosted by House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill (D-Mass.) for President Ronald Reagan — because "the speaker has chosen to tear this nation apart with her actions and her rhetoric."
"You know, Bill Clinton built part of his political narrative by saying 'I feel your pain,'" former Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) told Wallace on Tuesday. "Donald Trump is asking the nation to feel his, and it is a weird leadership quality in a moment of crisis."
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