Donald Trump sidesteps Congress to extend coronavirus relief package

Donald Trump has bypassed Congress to give thousands of Americans a tax holiday and extra unemployment benefit after talks with the Democrats collapsed.

The president signed executive orders to extend economic relief for those hit hardest by the coronavirus at a news conference at his private New Jersey country club on Saturday.

He accused Democrats of “trying to steal the election” after talks on the next phase of COVID-19 support broke down.

“If Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage, I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need,” he told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Mr Trump has decided to cut payroll tax for anyone earning less than $100,000 (£75,000) a year and continue giving the unemployed $400 (£300) a week – after the previous benefit of $600 (£450) expired.

He also signed orders to hold off student loan payments and extend the freeze on evictions.

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The president said his rivals were loading up their rescue bill with priorities unrelated to the virus and therefore deliberately trying to stall a relief package.

His team are desperate to boost the economy so voters can see some sign of growth by the time the election comes in November.

They want Mr Trump to be seen to be taking action in a time of crisis after his ratings plummeted over his handling of the pandemic.

Speaking on Saturday, he said the new orders “will take care of pretty much this entire situation as we know it”.

More than 40 million Americans lost their jobs at the peak of the pandemic, with the US unemployment rate standing at 10.2% in July – down from 14.7% in April.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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