FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump spoke during a coronovirus disease (COVID-19) task force news briefing on July 22, 2020 in Washington, USA. REUTERS / Leah Millis
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Treasury Secretary Steven Menuchin said Saturday that the Trump administration supports increased unemployment benefits by the end of the year in the next round of coronovirus aid, even if at a lower level.
The administration and the US Congress are trying to strike an agreement on the next aid package because of the $ 600 a week unemployment benefit that Congress approved before the epidemic ended on July 31.
Mnuchin said he spoke to the top speaker of Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, on Friday, who said he does not want a short-term extension of unemployment insurance.
“We don’t want a short-term expansion, we want something by the end of the year,” said Mnuchin, who was in the Capitol on Saturday, to meet with the Senate Majority Leader’s staff along with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows Mitch McConnell on completing the package details.
Mnuchin said that last week Republicans were seeing an expansion of unemployment benefits that replace 70% of wages, an idea he reiterated on Saturday. “We want to make sure that there is a technological improvement, so that people don’t get more money to stay home to work,” he said.
Mnuchin said he expected the initial language of the law to be revealed on Monday.
Meadows suggested that a deal could be reached on a standalone bill on unemployment benefits before the July 31 deadline, leaving time for other issues to help Americans cope with the economic downturn from the epidemic.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Jason Langay; Editing by Sandra Maler