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U.S. governors question cost of Trump COVID-19 aid plans, urge talks to continue

EconomyAug 10, 2020 08:20PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: House Small Business Committee in Washington, DC 2/2

By Patricia Zengerle and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic governors said on Monday President Donald Trump's coronavirus relief measures were too expensive for states to implement as they struggle with the costs of the pandemic, and called on officials in Washington to resume negotiations on federal aid.

"We are concerned about the significant administrative burdens and costs this latest action would place on the states," the leaders of the National Governors Association said in a statement.

"The best way forward is for the Congress and the Administration to get back to the negotiating table and come up with a workable solution, which should provide meaningful additional relief for American families," New York's Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, and Arkansas' Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, said.

Talks on a new coronavirus relief package between top Trump administration officials and congressional Democratic leaders collapsed on Friday without an agreement and the two sides have not been in touch since. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a $3.4 trillion aid bill in May.

In a bid to move ahead without Congress, the Republican president on Saturday signed executive orders and a memorandum seeking to provide relief to workers, businesses and local governments.

Eviction protections and enhanced unemployment assistance both expired in July, slashing aid for more than 30 million people.

Trump's orders addressed payroll taxes, evictions and student loan payments, and included a plan to provide supplemental unemployment benefits using disaster relief funds. States would be required to cover 25% of the unemployment funding under the plan.It was not immediately clear that Trump's orders would have any significant impact on the crisis, however.

U.S. states have seen sharp declines in taxes and other revenues and steep demands for services from residents during the crisis.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said Trump's plan would cost his state $700 million per week, which it could not provide without cutting other important services.

PARTISAN POLITICS

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did not join the negotiations, accused Democrats of stalling aid to secure objectives like $1 trillion for state and local governments, which he dismissed as a bailout for "mismanaged" Democratic-led states.

The Senate unveiled its $1 trillion package late last month, around when administration officials began negotiating with the Democrats.

"(Democrats are) willing to personally increase the pain for vulnerable families unless they get their way," McConnell said as the Senate opened on Monday.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who has led negotiations alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats would talk if Republicans would compromise.

"Democrats remain ready to return to the table. We need Republicans to join us there and meet us halfway," he said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has represented the White House in the talks, said he had not spoken to Pelosi or Schumer since Friday but was willing to meet.

"We're prepared to put more money on the table," he told reporters at the White House. He insisted most states would be able to execute Trump's unemployment order within a week or two.

There are areas of agreement between Democrats and Republicans, including providing money for schools and coronavirus testing. But they remain at odds over major issues like the level of unemployment benefits and liability protections for businesses.

The expired federal benefit was $600 per week on top of state unemployment payments. Trump proposed $400.

U.S. governors question cost of Trump COVID-19 aid plans, urge talks to continue
 

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Comments (2)
Michael Mcfaul
Michael Mcfaul Aug 10, 2020 10:27PM ET
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Democrats ruin their budgets with over spending and financial mismanagement (New York, California, Illinois) and want the other 47 states to clean up their progressive mess by giving them something they don't deserve. Giving those states money would be the ultimate act of enabling bad behavior. Of course they want the negotiationas to continue so the democrats in Washington can bail their progressive states out of their self created mess
Luis Luna
Luis Luna Aug 10, 2020 10:27PM ET
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You forgot to mention Kentucky, Missisipi, south Carolina, Arizona. I suggest you check your facts! All thses red states are the most dependancy on the governement. In other words red states are parasites!
eddie galss
eddie galss Aug 10, 2020 10:00PM ET
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Title correction: Governors pay the price of shutting down their economies for a virus that we now know is less deadly than the flu for most people and that lockdowns have not had any impact comparing various countries with and without lockdowns globally
 
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