Trump says next coronavirus relief bill has to include payroll tax cut

President Trump on Sunday said he won’t support another round of coronavirus stimulus legislation unless it includes a payroll tax cut, a measure that has muted support among lawmakers in Congress.

Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall that he would like to see a sizable infrastructure bill pass to help revive the economy, which has cratered amid the coronavirus pandemic. But he indicated his long-desired payroll tax cut would have to be part of any talks.

“I want to see a payroll tax cut on both sides, a very strong one, because that’s going to really put people to work,” Trump said. “But infrastructure is so important. Our country, our roads are — excuse me — they’re going to hell.”

“But we will be doing infrastructure,” Trump said, seated next to Vice President Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “And I told Steve just today, we’re not doing anything unless we get a payroll tax cut. That is so important to the success of our country.”

Asked if he viewed a payroll tax cut as critical to juicing the economy, Pence demurred.

“The immediate way we deal with joblessness is by opening up America again,” Pence said, citing plans from governors around the country to gradually lift restrictions that have forced businesses to close.

Trump has repeatedly called for Congress to pass a payroll tax cut to combat the economic downturn induced by the coronavirus pandemic. He first proposed the idea in early March, but Congress quickly poured cold water on the idea, saying it would be insufficient for helping workers most in need.

More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks, and economists have warned that the economy is unlikely to recover quickly until there is a vaccine or proven treatment for the coronavirus. While a payroll tax cut could improve consumer spending, it would be unlikely to boost employment.

Lawmakers are eyeing another piece of legislation to aid struggling workers and businesses, but there are already points of conflict between the two parties. Democrats have said the next bill should include money to aid states with massive budget shortfalls due to the pandemic, but Trump and some Republicans have bristled at the idea of bailing out blue states.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that the bill must include liability protections for employers or it will not pass the Senate.

The Senate is set to return to the Capitol on Monday, despite concerns from some members about safety. The House may return the week of May 11 if the next piece of coronavirus relief is ready for a vote.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus relief Donald Trump economy Mitch McConnell payroll tax Steven Mnuchin

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