White House explores Trump acting on his own on virus relief

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – The White House is exploring whether President Donald Trump can act on his own to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and eviction protection if lawmakers fail to act, people familiar with the matter said.

The White House is concerned about the economic impact of the benefits having expired on Friday (July 31), the people said, as Democrats and Republicans have been unable to reach an agreement over a new coronavirus stimulus package.

It wasn't immediately clear how US President Donald Trump may be able to act without approval from lawmakers.
It wasn’t immediately clear how US President Donald Trump may be able to act without approval from lawmakers.PHOTO: AFP

It wasn’t immediately clear how Mr Trump may be able to act without approval from lawmakers. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Talks to break an impasse have become increasingly urgent with millions of jobless Americans left without additional aid, and the Senate scheduled to leave for an extended break on Friday.

Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on some of the biggest sticking points, including extending the supplemental unemployment insurance, despite claims of some progress on other issues following a weekend meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

“We’ll be meeting again tomorrow,” Mr Meadows said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

“But I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term.”

Democrats have insisted that supplemental unemployment benefits be continued at the US$600 (S$826.25) per week level, which expired on Friday.

Senate Republicans argue such an amount discourages work, and want to cut it to US$200 per week for two months and then cap it at 70 per cent of wages.

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