Congress has already exceeded trillions of dollars in unprecedented legislative relief in response to the pandemic, but the scale of the devastation the crisis has wreaked has prompted lawmakers to consider another round of help. Several states have started to lift their residence orders and reopen their savings, despite advice from health experts and tests are not yet available.
“I think right now, because there has been really good news, that the opening is starting to happen faster than expected, seems to be happening safely, so there is a chance that we will not “We won’t really need a phase four,” Hassett said on Fox News Saturday morning.
Negotiations are underway on a fourth stimulus package – or “phase four” of the response to coronaviruses – and Democratic congressional leaders have made it clear that top priority for them is funding for states and localities.
Speaking to reporters after his Fox News interview, Hassett said a possible phase four deal could focus on “growth and take-off and recovery, rather than just building a bridge to recovery.”
President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he would consider funding states as part of a “phase four” stimulus package, but “we want to take a short break” before adopting such a package.
He argued that Republicans are in a much better negotiating position on state funding, and if they agree, Republicans “must get something for it.”
Hassett said state aid on Saturday “will be a political matter to be settled” between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. He added that Trump “was absolutely opposed to the bailouts.”
Regarding the prospects for the US economy to reopen, Hassett predicted that “almost all states will be open for the most part economically”, likely by the end of May.
He said the economic numbers over the next few months will be “as bad as you have ever seen” and repeated some of his dire predictions about the economic impact of Covid-19 he made last week.
Hassett said unemployment could reach 19% and loss of GDP for the second quarter could reach 40%.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last Sunday that state and local governments would receive relief funds “in a very significant way.”
The Republicans have stipulated that more money for the states must go hand in hand with protecting the liability of businesses and healthcare professionals against possible lawsuits.
Senators and staff will return to Washington this week, but House legislators overturned their plans to return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
CNN’s Clare Foran and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.