WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pressed Congress on Friday to include a nine-month payroll tax holiday in the coronavirus relief package that is being finalized in the Democratic-led House.
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But after several days of intense negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the bill that’s coming together does not include a suspension of payroll taxes.
“I think we’re very close to getting this done,” Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday morning.
Unlike Trump, however, Mnuchin did not expressly endorse a payroll tax cut. Instead, he said on “Squawk on the Street” that Trump is committed to helping individuals, “whether it’s through the payroll tax cut or whether it’s through another means.”
The uncertainty over the payroll tax cut raises the question of how far the president would be willing to go to force Congress to include the provision in the bill. A White House spokesman on Friday did not immediately respond to questions from CNBC about the president’s intentions.
Mnuchin also sought to play down public fears of air travel, telling CNBC, “I’d get on a commercial airline and fly to LA if I wasn’t working 24 hours a day.”
Trump, in an Oval Office address Wednesday night, had asked lawmakers to consider implementing payroll tax relief amid the U.S. response to the virus. But even some Republicans have been reluctant to endorse this, in large part because payroll taxes fund programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Democrats have resisted, saying it doesn’t help people who have lost their jobs.