AOC criticises Trump for axing Covid relief talks while in ‘perilous medical state’

President pulled talks a day after leaving hospital

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 07 October 2020 17:14
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AOC criticises Trump for axing Covid relief talks while in ‘perilous medical state’

New York lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday criticised president Donald Trump’s decision to call off negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on a coronavirus relief package until after the election.

"I don’t think that we should be making any large political decisions when the president is in such a perilous medical state,” the 30-year-old congresswoman, also known as AOC, told MSNBC on Tuesday night.

“He is still receiving interventions and treatments and we’re in the middle of talking about and making dramatic decisions about...Covid stimulus," she added.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, said pulling the talks leaves millions of Americans who are already struggling financially “staring down the barrel of one of the largest mass evictions” in history.

Just a day after leaving hospital for coronavirus treatment, Mr Trump, 74, announced on Twitter that he would be instructing all of his aides to stop talks “until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business”.

With coronavirus cases on the rise across much of the country heading into flu season, the president’s decision to pull the plug on negotiations triggered a brief stock market sell-off.  

Following the stock market drop, Mr Trump appeared to edge back a bit from his call to end talks. He took to Twitter again and called on Congress to send him a "Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200)" - a reference to a pre-election batch of direct payments to most Americans that had been a central piece of negotiations.

Failure to agree on a bill could have dire consequences for a US economy that has still not fully recovered from the pandemic,  with some 10 million Americans remaining out of work

Making his announcement, the president singled out top Democrat Nancy Pelosi for criticism, accusing the House speaker of negotiating in bad faith.

Speaker Pelosi, 80, appeared on NBC less than a week ago to declare that progress was being made on a bill the Democrats and GOP have been fighting over since July.

Ms Pelosi issued a scathing statement following the announcement, accusing the president of showing his “true colours” by axing the talks.

Mr Trump’s presidential rival, Joe Biden, said the commander-in-chief had “turned his back” on the American people.

"Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child's school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that - none of it - matters to him," he added.

The unexpected turn could be a blow to Mr Trump's re-election prospects and comes as his administration and campaign are in turmoil. He is quarantining in the White House with coronavirus, and the latest batch of opinion polls shows him significantly behind Mr Biden, with the election just four weeks away.

The collapse means that Mr Trump and down-ballot Republicans will face re-election without delivering aid to voters — such as the $1,200 direct payments, or "Trump checks," to most individuals — even as the national jobless rate is about 8 per cent with millions facing the threat of eviction from their homes.

One endangered Republican, Maine senator Susan Collins, said "waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake."

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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