U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday signed an executive order and three memoranda to provide economic relief for the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump said at a news conference at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, that the four measures would:
- Continue expanded unemployment relief, which had been $600 a week, at $400 a week, with states covering 25% of the cost and the federal government covering the remaining 75%.
- Provide a payroll tax holiday for Americans earning less than $100,000.
- Continue to delay student loan payments.
- Extend the freeze on evictions.
The president accused congressional Democrats of including items in the relief bill that are unrelated to the pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, offered Friday to reduce their proposed $3.4 trillion coronavirus aid package by nearly one-third if Republicans would agree to raise their $1 trillion counteroffer.
But the White House negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, rejected the offer.
Republican senators are not interested in an economic relief package that costs more than $1 trillion. The bottom line for the Democrats is $2 trillion. There seems to be no room for negotiating away from those numbers for the politicians. Reports said the lawmakers had not scheduled any additional meetings, and House and Senate members have left Washington.
What Trump's executive measures don't include, but the economic relief bill did, was more than $100 billion to help schools reopen this fall, more funding for coronavirus testing, money to prevent furloughs by state and local governments, money for the struggling U.S. Postal Service and money for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.
Four coronavirus rescue bills amounting to nearly $3 trillion all won bipartisan approval, but conservatives have recoiled at the prospect of another agreement with a whopping deficit-financed cost.
Millions of Americans recently saw the $600 enhancement to their weekly unemployment benefits end. Social service agencies had warned that the lack of the additional funds for the unemployed could result in food insecurity and evictions for millions.