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    Republicans ready piecemeal coronavirus aid bill

    U.S. Republicans are now considering a piecemeal coronavirus relief package after a week of fierce internal divisions over just how many trillions of dollars to spend and where to spend them. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News Sunday that Republicans would unveil a $1 trillion proposal on Monday, focused on the pressing issue of extending enhanced unemployment benefits for Americans who lost their jobs due to the health crisis. That bill arrives two months later and two trillion dollar lighter than a Democratic relief package that passed the House of Representatives in May. But the White House and Senate Republicans deemed it dead on arrival. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Republicans for not being able to agree on a plan when Americans are desperate for basic assistance. “They’re in disarray, and that delay is causing suffering for America’s families. We have been ready for two months and ten days. I’ve been here all weekend hoping they had something to give us. They promised it this week. It didn’t come. Now they’re saying Monday.” The Democratic bill included money for state and local governments depleted by the healthcare costs of the pandemic; money for expanded virus testing and tracing; and maintaining a $600-per-week enhancement to unemployment benefits enacted back in April in response to the coronavirus. That last one has been a lifeline for millions, but it expires at the end of July. And some Republicans say Democratic measures actually hold back the economic recovery. Texas Senator Ted Cruz complained that the enhanced benefits were too generous. “The problem is, for sixty-eight percent of people receiving it right now, they are being paid more on unemployment than they made in their job. And, I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to small business owners all over the state of Texas who are trying to reopen and they’re trying their waiters and waitresses, and they’re calling their busboys. And they won’t come back. And of course they won’t come back. Because the federal government is paying them – in some instances – twice as much to stay home.” The Republican measure likely focuses on some extension of jobless benefits, possibly as a percentage of person’s lost wages.
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    World News from Reuters

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