Slider
Slider

|

Slider

Pelosi, Mnuchin open door to narrower Covid-19 aid through 2020

Regional News
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

WASHINGTON/Morristown, NJ (Reuters) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said they were open to restarting Covid-19 aid talks, after weeks of failed negotiations prompted President Donald Trump to take executive actions that Democrats argued would do little to ease Americans’ financial distress.

Discussions over a fifth bill to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic fell apart on Friday, a week after the expiration of a critical boost in unemployment assistance and eviction protections, exposing people to a wave of economic pain as infections continue to rise across the country.

Trump on Saturday sought to take matters into his own hands, signing executive orders and memorandums aimed at unemployment benefits, evictions, student loans and payroll taxes.

Trump told reporters in New Jersey before returning to Washington on Sunday that his suspension of the collection of the payroll tax could be made permanent. He said doing so would have no impact on Social Security because reimbursement would be made through the general fund.

Trump, noting that Democrats want to resume stimulus discussions, said the White House would be willing to talk to them again “if it’s not a waste of time.”

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called Trump’s orders a “series of half-baked measures” and accused him of putting Social Security, the government pension plan for the elderly, “at grave risk” by delaying the collection of payroll taxes that pay for the program.

“This will have zero impact on Social Security,” Trump said.

“It may be permanent, we’re looking into it,” he added. “We’ll take it out till the end of the year and then I’m going to make a decision as to, number one, an extension, and number two, make it permanent and no reimbursement.”

Trump’s move came as the number of U.S. cases of Covid-19 rose past 5 million. More than 160,000 Americans have died. Trump’s orders also raised questions about the legality of bypassing Congress’ constitutional powers to tax and spend.

On Sunday, both Pelosi and Mnuchin appeared willing to consider a narrower deal that would extend some aid until the end of the year, and then revisit the need for more federal assistance in January. That would come after November’s election, which could rebalance power in Washington.

“Let’s pass legislation on things that we agree on,” Mnuchin told Fox News in an interview. “We don’t have to get everything done at once.... What we should do is get things done for the American public now, come back for another bill afterwards.”

Pelosi dismissed Trump’s orders as unconstitutional and “illusions” that would not quickly or directly help Americans. She said separately to “Fox News Sunday” that a deal between congressional Democrats and the White House was essential.

“Right now, we need to come to agreement,” she said, adding that Democrats could shorten the length of time aid is provided in order to bring the bill’s costs down closer to the Trump administration’s proposal.

“We could talk about how long our provisions would be in effect, so we can take things down — instead of the end of September of next year, a shorter period of time — and we’ll revisit all of it next year anyway,” said Pelosi, whose fellow Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mnuchin appeared open to consider the idea, telling Fox: “Anytime they have a new proposal, I am willing to listen.”

 

 

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider