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Remarks in a Meeting With Republican Congressional Leaders To Discuss Economic Stimulus Legislation and an Exchange With Reporters

July 20, 2020

The President. Okay, well, thank you very much. You've asked to see what's going on at our meetings, so I figured let you come in. You'll look and you'll see we have a lot of good things happening. We have tremendous progress on vaccines and therapeutics. We're getting reports. We're studying the reports very closely. I think people are going to be very pleasantly surprised with what's going on on the vaccine front and the therapeutic front. And that, to us, is always the first topic.

Secondarily, but very importantly, we're working and negotiating with the Democrats on trying to get a plan that helps small businesses, helps people, helps this country. And I think we've made a lot of progress on that. And the discussions are going on.

Steve, do you want to say a few words as to where we are?

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. Yes, Mr. President. Mark and I have been working very hard over the last 2 weeks, with Mitch and Kevin, on really what we see as the focus is kids and jobs, the Recovery Act, CARES 4.0.

We've spent an unprecedented amount of money. The good news is, a lot of the $3 trillion, we still have left to put in the economy and put back to work. We're focused on starting with another trillion dollars. We think that will make a big impact.

And the focus is, as I said, is really about kids and jobs and vaccines. We're going to make sure that we have a vaccine by the end of the year for emergency use. And the plan is—we just updated the President and the Vice President; they signed off on this. Mark and I will be meeting tomorrow with the Republicans at the lunch to give them a full briefing, and then we will also be reaching out to the Democrats to begin our discussions.

But we are committed that, by the end of this month, make sure that before the enhanced unemployment insurance expires, that we pass legislation so that we can protect Americans that are unemployed.

Now, we've said the number one issue is, we have to finish the technical fix on enhanced unemployment. We're going to make sure that we don't pay people more money to stay home than go to work. We want to make sure that people who can go to work safely can do so. We'll have tax credits that incentivize businesses to bring people back to work. We'll have tax credits for PP and E, for safe work environment. And we're going to have big incentives, money to the States for education, for schools that can open safely and do education.

So these are the priorities, as well as liability protection. We want to make sure that frivolous lawsuits don't prevent schools, universities, and businesses from reopening.

The President. Okay.


Vice President Michael R. Pence. Well, Mr. President, I just want to—I want to say how much we appreciate the leadership in the House and Senate. Today's conversation is a continuation of your commitment to do whatever it takes to get the American people, American businesses, and communities through this very challenging time. The outbreaks across the Sun Belt are serious, but because of the support that we've had from, frankly, leaders in both political parties in the Congress of the United States, we're meeting this moment with expanded testing, personal protective equipment, and, as you said, Mr. President, with the development and distribution of therapeutics and a rapid development of vaccines. That will all continue.

But it's important that the Congress come together and provide additional resources for families that have been impacted, businesses that have been impacted. We'll make sure our health care workers and our States have the resources that they need. But also, Mr. President, we're going to continue to advance policies that will make it possible for us to open up America again and open up America's schools.

And I look forward, I know as you do, in working with the leaders that are gathered here and Members of Congress in both political parties, to deliver another important element of a recovery package that will keep on working until we bring our country all the way back and reach that day that we someday put this coronavirus in the past.

The President. Okay.

Mitch, please.

Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell. Yes, tomorrow begins the process of socializing what we've been discussing with the administration over the last 2 weeks with our Members. And if you're looking for a theme here, think liability protection for those who have been trying to deal with the pandemic. We don't need an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic we're already struggling with.

Kids in school, jobs, and healthcare will be the theme of the proposal that we hope to come together and present to our Republicans. And then, as the Secretary of the Treasury indicated, obviously, you can't pass the bill in the Senate without the Democrats, and we'll begin to talk with them as well.

The President. Kevin.

House Minority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy. Yes. I mean, just to sum up what we're looking at: If you're sitting at home and you're concerned that you don't have a job, we want to make sure you're able to come back. We don't think any Federal money should be spent that gives you a disincentive to work. We want to make sure we have incentives to keep going.

For those small businesses, we want to make sure you can stay open. We want to make sure your kids can go back to school, but go back safely, not just for the children, but for the teachers as well.

We continue to make strides to make sure we get to a vaccine, that we find a cure for this virus that we did not invite, that came from a foreign land. And I think that's the focus that we have to be a part of.

Mitch talks about—and I think it's fundamental not just for schools, but for any businesses striving—whether they can open back up or not. They should not have an attack from any lawsuits. We need to give the protection that we rebuild, restore, and renew this country to where we were before, and I know we can do it together.

That's why we're working here. We'll be reaching out to the Democrats. And I hope, for that moment in time, they put politics aside; that we look at one Nation, that we don't sit back inside of a rule within a Senate that a minority denies the ability to have this debate, that denies the ability to help America unite and solve this problem once and for all. We are making great strides when it comes to therapies, what—this Warp Speed. History will write about this. When we get to the moment in time that we have this vaccine, they'll write about how fast it would and no other country could do what we did because of the ingenuity of this Nation. And that's the focus of what we're trying to do for the safety of this country, for our students, for our teachers, and for our businesses that we're back to work again, stronger and safer and more united.

The President. It came from China. It should have never been allowed to get out. They could have stopped it. They could have stopped it easily. They chose not to. And we'll have further reports on that. But it came from China. They could have stopped it, but they didn't. They stopped it from going into China, but they didn't stop it from going to the rest of the world. It didn't stop it from going to Europe, to us.

They should have stopped it. They could have stopped it. They weren't transparent at all; they were the opposite. It's not good.

I spoke with the President of France this morning, and I spoke with the President of Egypt, and we had a very, very good conversation, both of us. And all of us, and all of us together—I've had many conversations with leaders all over the world over the weekend, and over the last couple of weeks in particular. And this is a pandemic that is flaring up all over the place. Countries thought they were in good shape and then, all of a sudden, they have a big flare up.

I see that over the weekend—I guess on Friday—there was a record worldwide number of death—worldwide. Because when you watch the news—the local news—and you see it, and it's, like, all about the United States. They never like to talk about what's going on in the world. But you look at Mexico, Brazil, many countries in Europe, many countries—all over—Russia. Russia has a got a tremendous problem. It's—what's going on is terrible. It's terrible. But this is a worldwide problem.

And we're helping the world with ventilators. We're helping a lot of countries. They don't have ventilators, and we're sending thousands of ventilators to different countries. But I do want people to understand this is a worldwide problem caused by China, but it's a worldwide problem.

Countries are going through hell, and it's going to—we're going to give you a lot briefings in the next week and over the next few weeks as to—I think it's very important to do it, the vaccines and the therapeutics. I think I'm going to bring some of the great companies that are working, and very successfully in the past have worked on these things, and they're going to tell you very specifically what they're doing and how they're doing. But we think we're doing very well in that regard.

Those two items—I think, frankly, therapeutic, I like almost better at this point. You go in and you make people better. Now, we have had some very good luck with remdesivir, and that's been successful. And others have been successful. The plasma has been successful. But we are—we're really coming up with some very good answers, meaning, they are. All over the world, they're working. And we're working very closely all over the world on the vaccines and the therapeutics.

So we're going to have some of the heads of these great companies coming in. Johnson & Johnson is doing very well, in particular. They seem to be doing very well. But numerous are doing very well. It's something that I really feel certain—I guess you can never use "totally certain" but pretty damn certain that they're going to have the vaccine, they're going to have therapeutics, and it's going to start taking place very shortly, and that will be a great thing. For the world, that will be a great thing. But this is happening all over the world, not just the United States. And it's a tough one. It's very tough. It's very sad when you see the death. It's all death that could have been stopped by China. If they wanted to stop it, they could have stopped it.

Okay, thank you very much, everybody. Please. Thank you. Thank you.

White House aide. Alright, guys. Thanks, guys. Press, let's go.

Q. How important, Mr. President——

White House aide. John [John Roberts, Fox News] and Steve [Steve A. Holland, Reuters], let's go. Press, thank you.

Q. ——how important is the payroll tax cut?

The President. The what?

Payroll Tax Cut

Q. How important is the payroll tax cut in phase four?

The President. I think it's very important. I think it's a very important thing. It's very good. It's been proven to be successful. It's a big saving for the people. It's a tremendous saving, and I think it's an incentive for companies to hire their workers back and to keep their workers. So the payroll tax cut, to me, is very important. We're working on it. And I don't think that there's too much dispute as to the level of importance, John. It's a very important thing. Okay?

It's one of—that's one of many elements we're discussing. We're discussing probably a total of 10 different elements. But payroll tax cut is a very important one.

Q. Are they signing on it?

The President. Oh, absolutely. [Laughter] No, I think, hopefully, we'll get there, but we're talking about a lot of things, not just the payroll tax cut.

White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefings/Coronavirus Vaccine and Treatment Development

Q. So you're bringing back the coronavirus briefings? Is that—do I understand you correctly?

The President. Well, we had very successful briefings. I was doing them, and we had a lot of people watching—record numbers watching. In the history of cable television—television, there's never been anything like it.

And we were doing very well, and I thought it would be, sort of, automatic. And a lot of positive things were happening. And frankly, a lot of the country is doing well. A lot of the people don't say it, as you understand.

But we've have had this big flare up in Florida, Texas, a couple of other places. And so I think what we're going to do is I'll get involved, and we'll start doing briefings, whether it's this afternoon or tomorrow—probably tomorrow—and I'll do briefings. And part of the briefing, I think much more so than last time—because last time, we were nowhere with vaccines or therapeutics. And let's say that ended 6 weeks ago, and we'll start them again. And I think it's a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics, and, generally speaking, where we are.

And so I think we'll start that probably starting tomorrow. I'll do it at 5 o'clock, like we were doing. We had a good slot. And a lot of people were watching, and that's a good thing. I think that Kayleigh will continue hers at 11 o'clock, just like they were. And I'll be discussing the—as I call it, the China virus, the China plague. I'll be discussing it, and I'll also be discussing perhaps some other things.

But you know, we're doing very well in so many different ways, but unfortunately, this is something that's very tough, but we're going to get it solved, and I think we're going to get it solved in numerous ways, but the two best would be vaccines and therapeutics. So we'll be having that.

Protests and Civil Unrest in U.S. Cities/Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement Officers

Q. Mr. President, on Portland and other cities that are experiencing violence——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——there was a report out this morning that you're considering sending 175 Federal troops to these cities to help local law enforcement. Can you fill us in on that?

The President. Well, it depends on what your definition of "troops" is. I mean, we're sending law enforcement.

Q. [Inaudible.]

The President. Portland was totally out of control. The Democrats—the liberal Democrats running the place had no idea what they were doing. They were ripping down—for 51 days, ripping down that city, destroying the city, looting it. The level of corruption and what was going on there is incredible. And then the Governor comes out: "We don't need any help."

How about Chicago? I read the numbers were many people killed over the weekend. We're looking at Chicago too. We're looking at New York. Look at what's going on. All run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left.

But we can't let this happen to the cities. New York was up 348 percent, the crime rate. So the Governor has to do something about it. And if the Governor is not going to do something about, we'll do something about it.

But what's happening in New York, a place I love. I love New York. And look at what's going on over there. The woman who was shot because she said, "Could you please not light off fire crackers?" And they turned around and shot her eight times, and she died. That's not our civilization. That's not about us.

And then the police are afraid to do anything. I know New York very well. I know the police very well—New York's finest. And the fact is, they're restricted from doing anything. They can't do anything.

Q. So what are you planning on doing?

The President. Well, I'm going to do something—that, I can tell you. Because we're not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these—Oakland is a mess. We're not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.

Q. So send more Federal law enforcement to some of these cities?

The President. We're going to have more Federal law enforcement—that, I can tell you. In Portland, they've done a fantastic job. They've been there 3 days, and they really have done a fantastic job in very short period of time. No problem. They grab them; a lot of people in jail. They're leaders. These are anarchists. These are not protestors. People say "protestors"; these people are anarchists. These are people that hate our country. And we're not going to let it go forward.

And I'll tell you what: The Governor and the mayor and the Senators out there, they're afraid of these people. That's the reason they don't want us to help them. They're afraid. I really believe they're actually maybe even physically afraid of these people, because what they're doing is incredible.

We didn't just go there. This wasn't like it started right away. We went there after 51 days. We said, "We can't let that happen anymore." But these are anarchists. And the politicians out there, yes, they're weak, but they're afraid of these people. They're actually afraid of these people. And that's why they say, "We don't want the Federal Government helping."

How about Chicago? Would you say they need help after this weekend? Do you know the numbers? Did you hear the numbers? Many, many shot. Many, many killed. I'm not talking about one, two. Was it 18 people killed? I think more than that. And you add it up over the summer—this is worse than Afghanistan, by far. This is worse than anything anyone has ever seen. All run by the same liberal Democrats. And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we're not going to let it go to hell.

Thank you very much, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:07 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Emmanuel Macron of France; President Abdelfattah Said Elsisi of Egypt; Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York; Shatavia Walls, who was killed in New York City on July 7; Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, OR; Sens. Ronald L. Wyden and Jeff Merkley; and 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Secretary Mnuchin referred to White House Chief of Staff Mark R. Meadows.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting With Republican Congressional Leaders To Discuss Economic Stimulus Legislation and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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