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Americans will not receive any additional economic relief — neither stimulus checks nor expanded unemployment benefits — until at least after the November election, US President Donald Trump announced in a social media post on Tuesday.
Insisting that Democrats only want to “bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat states,” Trump said on Twitter that he would no longer negotiate with them over another stimulus package. Indeed, he insisted that the economy is “doing very well,” despite there being 10.7 million fewer jobs today than there were six months ago, and said he would pivot instead to confirming his nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
On October 1, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that included a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for every American, with parents eligible to receive another $1,200 for each dependent child. The bill also proposed an additional $600 in federal unemployment benefits and $436 billion in aid for state and local governments to help cover the cost of providing assistance to out-of-work Americans.
The Democrats’ plan would have also revived the Paycheck Protection Program, providing cash infusions to small businesses to help keep employees on the payroll.
Democrats had passed a $3 trillion stimulus bill in May, but Senate Republicans and White House negotiators balked at the price tag, and the two sides were unable to reach a deal.
A $700 million proposal unveiled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell eliminated the $1,200 stimulus checks and cut expanded unemployment benefits in half, providing an additional $300 a week through the end of the year. It would also have revived the Paycheck Protection Program, with about half the measure’s funding coming from the first stimulus package enacted into law this spring.
Democrats, for their part, disparaged the GOP proposal as entirely too meager.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had backed the idea of another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, and the White House said it would back a deal of up to $1.6 trillion. But those talks have now been called off, a decision criticized by Democrats and some vulnerable Republicans.
“Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next COVID-19 relief package is a huge mistake,” Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican up for reelection in November, said Tuesday.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, in a statement, said the president’s tweets were indicative of his lack of concern for average Americans.
“Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him,” Biden said. “There will be no help from Washington for the foreseeable future.”
In a series of late-night tweets, Trump appeared to respond to the negative coverage, issuing ultimatums in lieu of negotiations.
In one, the president said Congress should pass an airline bailout and approve additional money for small businesses, using money already approriated for the first stimulus package. Some 20 minutes later, he also declared that he would sign a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks.”
Democrats have consistently rejected such piecemeal stimulus efforts.
“Let’s not have a skinny bill when we have a massive problem,” Pelosi said last month.
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