COVID-19: USA

Trump to sign executive order on coronavirus relief benefits

Donald Trump said he would extend enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefits and employment taxes into next year at a news conference held at his luxury golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday

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US PRESS GROUP

Donald Trump has signed an executive order and three memoranda intended to provide additional relief to address the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout after the White House failed to reach a deal with Congress.

Speaking at a news conference from his private golf club in the leafy New Jersey hamlet of Bedminster, the US president said the directives will extend federal unemployment benefits at $400-a-week (a $200 cut from the present amount), defer payroll tax through the end of 2020 (“most likely” retroactive to 1 July), defer and forgive interest on student loans and extend moratoriums on evictions, defer student loan payments and extend the federal moratorium on evictions.

Trump signed the order before the gathered press and several dozen club members, who watched from the back of the ballroom and applauded enthusiastically in spots.

The announcement came one day after Trump first signaled his willingness to take executive action on the lapsed economic relief measures amid congressional gridlock. Negotiations between the two sides, which have dragged on for two weeks with scant indications of progress, have collapsed with the two sides around $1tn apart in the amount of money they want to commit to extending support to millions faced with economic hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The impasse meant that the $600-a-week bonus pandemic jobless federal benefit, which expired at the end of July, would be lost and potentially lead to a sharp rise in poverty rates and homelessness.

Trump preceded the signing with a campaign-style political speech, blending pre-written remarks and trademark ad-libs, which placed the blame for stalemate at the foot of the Democrats.

“What they really want is bailout money for states that are run by Democrat governors and mayors and that have been run very badly for many, many years and many decades in fact,” Trump said. “These people, I honestly don’t believe they love our country.”

Unlike Friday night’s presser, most of the club members who were permitted to observe the proceedings were wearing face masks when they entered.

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