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Trump signs measure to provide extra $400 in weekly unemployment benefits

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a Whirlpool Corporation washing machine factory in Clyde, Ohio, U.S., August 6, 2020.

Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic will be eligible for an additional $400 per week of unemployment benefits under one provision of a series of executive orders President Donald Trump signed Saturday.

Trump made the announcement as protracted negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats have been unsuccessful in extending the benefits originally offered through the CARES Act.

Republicans have resisted a move to keep the compensation at $600, with indications that they were looking at $200 a week.

Trump’s move represents a midpoint between the two positions, and were part of a broad array of other measures he directed to address the damage the Covid-19 spread has caused to the economy.

“So that’s generous, but we want to take care of our people,” he said from his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. “Again, it wasn’t their fault, it was China’s fault.”

An economic shutdown aimed at controlling the virus sent nearly 20 million Americans to the unemployment line. About half those jobs have been recovered since then, according to the nonfarm payrolls report Friday that showed the unemployment rate stood at 10.1%, five months after hitting a 50-year low.

Despite the burgeoning jobless problem, Democrats and Republicans were unable to agree on an extension, and the original provision expired a week ago.

“We’re doing that without the Democrats,” Trump said. “We should have been able to do it very easily with them, but they want all these additional things that have nothing to do with helping people.”

In addition to the unemployment insurance measure, Trump also signed measures aimed at halting evictions, providing a tax holiday and deferring student loan payments.

“Through these four actions, my administration will provide immediate relief to Americans struggling in this difficult time,” he said. “The beautiful thing about this difficult time is we’re coming back and setting records.”

Trump said he also is looking at other measures including income tax relief and cutting the rate on the capital gains tax.

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