US President Donald Trump has vowed to intervene should Democrats continue to hold a new coronavirus relief package “hostage,” saying he would take executive action if talks between lawmakers continue to stall.
“If Democrats continue to hold critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” Trump told reporters at a presser in New Jersey on Friday, accusing the party of focusing on “radical left-wing policies” unrelated to the coronavirus and obstructing negotiations for the new aid package.
#BREAKING: President Trump announces potential INDEFINITE deferral of student loan interest payments and interest forgiveness and enhancement of unemployment benefits until year’s end if no deal is made: “Not their fault.” pic.twitter.com/TIQ5sGei36
— The Hill (@thehill) August 8, 2020
Despite intense talks between White House officials and Democratic leaders this week, they failed to reach a compromise on the relief bill. Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows lamented that the two sides were “still a considerable amount apart” following the meeting, which Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) also dubbed “disappointing.”
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) say that Democrats will not agree to legislation that puts less than $2 trillion into the relief effort, calling for greater funding for coronavirus testing and aid to states and municipalities, among other things. Trump has slammed their proposal as an attempt to secure “bailout money for poorly run Democrat cities and states,” insisting on the $1 trillion bill introduced by Republicans last week.
Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2020
The president also suggested he could act unilaterally on unemployment relief during his Friday press conference, saying he would extend benefits to the end of the year by executive order, though offered few additional details. Democrats have argued in favor of extending a $600 weekly benefit, while the GOP has called to cut it down to $200.
At an impasse, a number of senior White House figures have urged the president to take executive action on relief, with Meadows saying “We’re going to take executive orders to try to alleviate some of the pain that people are experiencing.” An order could come as soon as the weekend, Trump hinted.
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