President Donald Trump stunned campaign advisers and allies in Congress by single-handedly torpedoing any chance of a fresh coronavirus stimulus, saddling himself with the blame for any more layoffs and market losses in the final weeks before the election.
With the president already trailing badly in polls as he recovers from COVID-19, his decision to publicly scuttle talks toward a bill in excess of US$1 trillion puzzled allies, who had accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats for overreaching in negotiations.
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Unless he backtracks, Trump’s decision ensures that Americans won’t receive stimulus checks before Election Day or an extension of at least US$400 a week in enhanced unemployment benefits. Any stimulus measure would have also included billions for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, vaccine distribution, and financial assistance for the U.S. Postal Service ahead of Election Day.