President Trump said he will stop negotiations on another stimulus package until after the election.
In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Trump directed his representatives to end negotiations and concentrate instead on the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had recently been in talks about a second stimulus package and the House had passed a revised version of the Heroes Act. Now, Trump has pledged to pass a stimulus bill after Nov. 3.
The news came as a blow to the Broadway industry, which has been championing provisions set to be included in the stimulus package, such as continuing unemployment benefits and grants for producers and theater owners through the Save Our Stages provision.
“The President’s reckless and irresponsible decision to postpone relief talks while most of the arts and entertainment sector is unemployed is an insult not just to our members, but Americans everywhere who will suffer with a slower and more uncertain economic recovery,” Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association, wrote in a statement.
The industry has been looking for additional federal relief since the additional $600 in unemployment benefits ended in July. And, as theaters across the country remain closed, workers’ health insurance coverage is at risk, necessitating federal healthcare subsidies, according to the unions.
“There is no other way to say it. Without a subsequent COVID-19 relief bill, entertainment workers and their families face economic desolation,” the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees said in a statement.
IATSE and Equity both emphasized the longevity of the shutdown and the uncertain timeline for a return to work. While criticizing Trump’s “sabotage” of the negotiations, IATSE urged the White House and Senate Republicans to come back to the table and resume talks on a relief bill.
“The $600 unemployment insurance weekly federal benefit from the CARES Act has expired and yet there is no clear time horizon for a safe return to work for many entertainment workers, especially live event workers. For us, aid can’t come soon enough, and every moment without relief causes more hardship and desperation,” IATSE said in a statement.