Trump: 'No rush' for relief bill despite dire jobless numbers

Washington (AFP) –


US President Donald Trump said Friday he was in "no rush" to strike a deal with Democrats over emergency relief for suffering Americans even as the raging coronavirus pandemic causes staggering job losses.

Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they are crafting what could become another trillion-dollar-plus rescue package potentially including funding for state and local governments, paycheck protections and rent or mortgage assistance.

Pelosi signalled that her "bold CARES 2 package" could soon get a vote if the House of Representatives returns to regular session next week.

The president appeared to wave off the urgency.

"We're in no rush," Trump said at a roundtable with Republican lawmakers when asked about speeding up negotiations given the staggering 14.7 percent unemployment figure released Friday.

Trump said he wanted to see what Democrats were proposing in the draft bill, adding that the administration "got what we needed" in previous rescue packages.

Congress in March passed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion rescue, triggering the distribution of checks to millions of families.

The package pumped $349 billion into a loan program to salvage small businesses and directed $150 billion to state and local governments.

A subsequent $483 billion plan followed in late April.

Now, leading congressional Republicans and the White House are advocating for a pause in new relief to see how the latest package helps.

"We're throwing money at it," Trump said of the earlier efforts.

"We can sit back and we're going to watch" the negotiations, Trump said. "We'll do what's right for the country."

- 'Big bold approach' -

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined Trump and other Republicans in seeking a pause on new rescue efforts, angering top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer.

"We need a big, bold approach now to support American workers and families," Schumer said in a statement.

"No one could look at today's jobs report, the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, and say we should hit the pause button on further government action."

Several Democrats have introduced measures to help stricken Americans.

Senators Kamala Harris, Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders unveiled a bill Friday that would provide most Americans with a monthly $2,000 check for the duration of the crisis.

Sanders said tens of millions of Americans "are living in economic desperation," and that the one-time $1,200 checks that many recently received "is not nearly enough to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet."

Trump has advocated for a payroll tax cut, an idea that has hit resistance within his own party. And on Friday he floated a capital gains tax cut.

Both proposals would be fiercely opposed by Democrats.

Several roundtable attendees told Trump they were happy to see dozens of states easing lockdown restrictions in order to jumpstart their frozen economies.

"Texas is reopening and I think it can actually be a model for this country as we step out of retreat," congressman Dan Crenshaw said.