White House advisor says next relief package to include more direct payments: media

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Photo taken on July 23, 2020 shows the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States. (Photo: Xinhua)

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Xinhua) -- White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Sunday that the next round of COVID-19 relief package will include 1,200-U.S.-dollar direct payments to Americans, as a resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country poses major risk to the economic recovery.

"There's a 1,200 dollar check coming, that's going to be part of the new package," Kudlow said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," noting that he would have preferred a payroll tax cut but it doesn't work politically.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration have reached an agreement in principle on the next COVID-19 relief package, which will focus on kids, jobs and healthcare.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that Republicans have now finalized the relief package, which is worth about 1 trillion dollars, and intend to introduce it Monday.

"It's a very well rounded package," Kudlow said. "It's a very well targeted package."

Kudlow also said the administration plans to lengthen the federal eviction moratorium, which has protected millions of renters from getting evicted in the past four months but ended on Saturday.

The White House economic advisor defends the Trump administration's plan to give Americans only 70 percent of their previous wages, instead of the extra weekly 600-dollar unemployment benefits, saying that the unemployment plan is "quite generous."

U.S. Congress passed the 2.2-trillion-U.S.-dollar CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, in late March to provide fiscal aid for households, businesses and healthcare providers, but the 600-dollar unemployment benefits are set to expire at the end of this month.

While Democrats want to extend the extra 600-dollar unemployment benefits through January, the White House and Republicans want to reduce the figure, arguing that it has created a financial disincentive for people to return to work.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of initial jobless claims in the United States rose to 1.4 million in the week ending July 18 amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, reversing 15 weeks of consecutive declines in new applications, and indicating that re-imposed restrictions on businesses activity have taken a toll on employment.

Over 20 U.S. states have already paused or partially reversed reopening efforts amid an alarming resurgence of cases, raising uncertainty over the prospect of economic recovery.

As the total number of COVID-19 cases across the nation surpasses four million, more than 150 prominent U.S. medical experts and health professionals have signed an open letter, urging decision makers to shut down the country and contain the surging pandemic.