Trump ends Covid budget stimulus relief talks


Workers in hazmat suits were seen sanitising eh White House briefing room on MondayImage copyright
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Workers in hazmat suits were seen sanitising the White House briefing room on Monday

US President Donald Trump has said he is ending negotiations over a Covid-19 relief bill, and will only resume talks after the election.

“Immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans,” he tweeted one day after leaving hospital.

Budget talks between Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been underway.

US stock markets fell immediately after Mr Trump’s announcement.

It comes as cases rise in several parts of the country, and the outbreak hits top Pentagon military officials, White House staff and Republican senators.

Lawmakers from both parties had hoped for another round of Covid-19 relief spending to pass ahead of the 3 November election, but Mr Trump’s tweet appears to have abruptly suspended that prospect.

In his tweet, the president cast blame for the talks’ collapse on Mrs Pelosi, saying that she was seeking $2.4tr (£1.8tr) “to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States”.

He said he counter-offered $1.6tr (£1.2tr) but Mrs Pelosi “is not negotiating in good faith”.

“I am rejecting their request, and looking to the future of the Country,” he wrote.

He added that he had instructed Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to focus efforts on confirming his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

What is the economic situation in the US?

Analysts have warned that the economic recovery risks stalling without further aid. While the US has regained about half the jobs lost in March and April, more than 10 million people remain unemployed.

In a speech on Tuesday, the head of America’s central bank, Jerome Powell, warned of “tragic” consequences” should policymakers do too little and the pace of progress slow further.

“The expansion is still far from complete,” he said. “Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.” 

Mr Trump’s unexpected announcement comes as many of the individual benefits previously approved by Congress have already run out.

The move would also significantly delay any new economic relief bills, as the new Congress does not reconvene until January, following the November elections.

What was Pelosi’s response?

Mrs Pelosi accused Mr Trump of “putting himself first at the expense of the country”.

“He shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes… and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the cheque,” she added.

Mrs Pelosi said the president “is wedded” to a $150bn tax cut for the wealthy, but refuses to help poor children.

“Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray,” she said, calling on Trump officials to heed Mr Powell’s advice.



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