Trump halting COVID-19 relief talks until after election draws criticism

2020-10-07 12:53

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on halting COVID-19 relief talks with Democrats until after the presidential election has drawn criticism from both parties.

"I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business," Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon, claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not negotiating in good faith.

"Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 Trillion Dollars to bailout poorly run, high crime, Democrat States, money that is in no way related to COVID-19. We made a very generous offer of $1.6 Trillion Dollars and, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith," he tweeted.

In a statement responding to Trump's tweets, Pelosi said "walking away from coronavirus talks demonstrates that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus."

"Once again, President Trump showed his true colors: putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress," she said, adding the White House is rejecting the urgent warnings from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Speaking at a virtual annual meeting held earlier on Tuesday by the National Association for Business Economics, Powell urged policymakers to provide more relief to households and businesses hurt by the pandemic, warning a prolonged slowing economic recovery could trigger typical recessionary dynamics.

"At this early stage, I would argue that the risks of policy intervention are still asymmetric. Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses," he said.

"Over time, household insolvencies and business bankruptcies would rise, harming the productive capacity of the economy, and holding back wage growth," said the Fed chief.

Joe Biden, 2020 Democratic nominee and former U.S. vice president, also slammed on Tuesday Trump's decision to suspend talks on COVID-19 relief, saying the president "never even really tried to get a deal" for the struggling Americans amid the pandemic.

"Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child's school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that -- none of it -- matters to him," Biden said in a statement.

Apart from Democrats, at least three Republican members of Congress have immediately blasted Trump's announcement.

Republican John Katko from New York said he strongly urges Trump to rethink the move.

"I disagree with the President. With lives at stake, we cannot afford to stop negotiations on a relief package. The Problem Solvers Caucus has a proposal that both sides agreed on and can bring negotiators back to the table," he tweeted.

Senator Susan Collins from Maine in a statement published Tuesday called Trump's decision "a huge mistake," saying she has already been in touch with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, one of the chief negotiators, and with several of her Senate colleagues.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska tweeted that she strongly believes "negotiations should continue."

"We all need to keep working until we reach a bipartisan agreement that can pass both chambers and be signed by the President," she said.

Mnuchin and Pelosi have resumed negotiations over the relief package in recent days, but the talks have so far yielded no deal, with significant differences remaining in key areas such as aid to state and local governments.

The Democrats-controlled House last week passed a 2.2-trillion-U.S.-dollar COVID-19 relief bill. However, some Senate Republicans previously signaled that they are not willing to support any package that costs over 1.5 trillion dollars to salvage the economy reeling from the pandemic.

Economists, as well as Federal Reserve officials, have argued that more fiscal relief is needed to sustain the economic recovery, warning of dire consequences if further fiscal support is not provided in time.
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