Donald Trump dismissed plans for a $1 trillion (£776bn) Republican economic stimulus package aimed at easing the impact of the coronavirus crisis as “semi-irrelevant”, as he sought to big up a deal with Kodak to manufacture medical products.
Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, on Monday proposed a package that would make payments of $1,200 (£925) to most Americans, with $100bn (£77m) set aside to help schools struggling amid the pandemic.
But the proposal means around 32 million citizens could see their unemployment payments slashed from $600 (£466) to $200 (£155).
At a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Trump lambasted the proposals, telling reporters there were elements of the deal he did not agree with.
“It’s sort of semi-irrelevant because the Democrats come with their needs and asks and the Republicans go with theirs,” he said. “We’ll be talking about it.”
The president instead tried to keep the focus on the Kodak deal, which he described as “groundbreaking”. Officials are in talks with Eastman Kodak – traditionally known for its camera products – to launch a pharmaceutical arm.
The US International Development Finance Corporation plans to loan the company $765m (£589) to make products to help battle against coronavirus.
“It’s a breakthrough in bringing pharmaceutical manufacturing back to the United States,” Trump told the briefings, adding that White House staff had been sent to New York to hash out the final details of the deal.
Meanwhile, congressional leaders on Capitol Hill concluded talks that would add $1 trillion to the $2.4tn (£1.8tn) already spent on virus relief measures.
Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, has been in talks with treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, to ensure that the GOP deal aligns with the president’s demands.
Meadows said “I don’t know if I would characterise it as getting closer” when asked if the two sides were close to reaching an agreement.
“I think everybody recognises there’s a long way between $1 trillion and $3 trillion and to suggest that there’s room for negotiation, it actually is going to be built from the ground up,” Meadows added when asked about his boss’s “semi-irrelevant comments.
Democrats have put forward their own $3tn (£2.3tn) plan, describing the Republican proposal as “totally inadequate”.
Under the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability protection, and Schools Act, payments would also be made to help struggling businesses, as well as schools and citizens.
Trump has demanded that any deal must ensure that schools and universities are fully reopened.
Congress is facing increasing pressure to pass the bill as millions of jobless Americans prepare for their unemployment insurance to expire this week.
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