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Trump urges Republicans to back bigger Covid-19 relief package

US President Donald Trump has urged Republicans to support a bigger Covid-19 relief package amid slow economic recovery in recent months.

“Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another),” Xinhua news agency quoted Trump as saying in a tweet on Wednesday.

Senate Republicans initially unveiled a $1 trillion coronavirus relief package in late July, but failed to advance a scaled-down proposal containing roughly $650 billion in total spending last week, as all Democrats opposed the measure.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer saidthat they were “encouraged” by Trump’s tweet after months of stalled negotiations.

“We are encouraged that after months of the Senate Republicans insisting on shortchanging the massive needs of the American people, President Trump is now calling on Republicans to ‘go for the much higher numbers’ in the next coronavirus relief package,” Pelosi and Schumer said in the statement.

“We look forward to hearing from the President’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway with a bill that is equal to the massive health and economic crises gripping our nation,” they added.

House Democrats unveiled a $3 trillion relief proposal in May, which failed to gain support from the Republicans.

Democrats won’t accept any package lower than $2.2 trillion, Pelosi said recently.

More fiscal support is likely to be needed to support economic recovery as numerous small businesses are struggling, and state and local governments are in dire financial situation, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

About 60 per cent of business closures across the US since March are permanent, indicating the devastating fallout from the pandemic, according to a report released by online review site Yelp on Wednesday.

As of August 31, 163,735 US businesses on Yelp have closed due to the pandemic since March 1, a 23 per cent increase since July 10.

A total of 97,966 businesses have permanently closed, the report said.