WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he supports another coronavirus stimulus bill but wants it to include incentives for Americans to go back to work, setting up a clash with Democrats in Congress over jobless benefits.
Trump said he supports direct payments to individuals as part of the so-called Phase 4 stimulus package.
“I do, I support it, but it has to be done properly, and I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats,” Trump said in an interview with the Fox Business Network.
“We want to create a very great incentive to work. So, we’re working on that and I’m sure we’ll all come together.” .
The remarks indicate the Trump administration will oppose an effort by Democrats in Congress to renew a $600 supplement to weekly jobless benefits set to expire at the end of July that was contained in earlier coronavirus relief legislation.
Many Republicans have argued that the supplemental benefit encourages workers to remain unemployed and they would prefer to provide a benefit for workers returning to the job.
Trump said the structure of the last round of financial aid to struggling Americans created a disincentive for people to return to work.
“It was an incentive, not to go to work. You’d make more money if you don’t go to work – that’s not what the country is all about,” Trump said in excerpts from the interview. “And people didn’t want that. They wanted to go to work, but it didn’t make sense because they make more money if they didn’t.”
Administration officials have said they will calibrate their response in terms of further stimulus based on economic data set to roll in over the next couple of weeks. Negotiations over another relief bill are not expected to pick up until Congress returns from a break for the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
Trump told Fox Business he would meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, later on Wednesday to discuss the stimulus package.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis)