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White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid

White House lurches in new direction on stimulus talks, pushing for airline aid

The newest twist in the talks appears to be fast-tracking negotiations to aid the airline industry while shelving prospects for broader unemployment aid and other programs. But the situation seemed somewhat fluid in the wake of a late-night change of heart from Trump, where he demanded piecemeal legislation on $1,200 stimulus checks and small-business assistance, in addition to airline aid.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the administration still held out hope for such one-off measures — even though Democrats have consistently rejected that approach — and Trump broke his coronavirus isolation Wednesday afternoon to go into the Oval Office, where a spokesman said he was being briefed on stimulus talks.

After sinking on Tuesday, the stock market rallied sharply Wednesday on the prospect of a partial deal. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 531 points, or nearly 2 percent. Airline stocks fared even better, with American and United airlines seeing their share prices rise more than 4 percent.

The herky-jerky nature of the economic relief talks has played out over months, as the White House and Democrats have failed to agree on a broader support package. The economy showed some signs of recovery over the summer, but pockets appear to be softening again. The travel industry last week announced layoffs, and the labor market has weakened while the coronavirus pandemic remains a factor across much of the country.

Trump and Pelosi exchanged insults again on Wednesday, a sign that the broader relief talks are unlikely to be revived. But both sides did appear interested in trying to work out immediate aid for the airline industry, which has not recovered from the pandemic’s impact. Last week, American and United began furloughing more than 30,000 employees.

The White House’s approach has changed multiple times in the past few

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