White House seeks $ 1 trillion to alleviate coronavirus: NPR
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Updated at 3:46 PM ET
The Trump administration is asking Congress for about $ 1 trillion in new economic aid as lawmakers begin work on the next phase of the coronavirus relief efforts.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that he worked with the president on the economic package. Their discussions included payments to small businesses, loan guarantees for industries such as airlines and hotels, and an incentive package for workers.
“We are trying to send checks to the Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said at a White House news conference Tuesday. “Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now. And I mean now, in the next couple of weeks.”
Mnuchin briefed Senate Republicans on the proposal Tuesday afternoon and has already spoken with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“This is a very unique situation in this economy. We put up a proposal that would inject $ 1 trillion into the economy, on top of the $ 300 billion of IRS deferrals. Now let me say: this is a combination of loans, this is a combination of direct checks to individuals, this is a combination of creating liquidity for small businesses. ”
The request comes as a number of lawmakers call for a quick solution to some of the country’s growing economic concerns. There is growing bipartisan agreement on the need to accelerate direct cash aid to individuals and families.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Calls for any new aid package to meet three criteria: assisting individuals and families with financial challenges, securing the country’s economy and economic foundation, and preparing the health system and supporting medical professionals.
“We will work here at warp speed for the Senate, which almost never does anything fast,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “These are not ordinary times, this is not an ordinary situation, so it requires extraordinary measures”.
McConnell said he intends to work with the White House to reach consensus among Republicans before turning to Democrats to sign a final deal.
The talks are expected to take place quickly. Mnuchin told reporters after a meeting with Senate Republicans that the first concern must be the acceleration of relief efforts to individuals, families and businesses, and not the deficit or other long-term problems.
“Congress should be concerned about American workers right now,” Mnuchin said. “At different times, we will repair the deficit. This is not the time to worry about it.”
Republican senators have expressed broad support for the concept of paying cash after lunch with Mnuchin, but many critical details about how the money will be allocated and to whom it has yet to be addressed.
The Senate is preparing to vote first on a more contained draft law, already approved in the House. This legislation includes sick leave and paid family leave for some workers, extended unemployment benefits and emergency funds for food security programs.
There had been some discussion of suspending the House measure to wait until the broader economic stimulus plan was worked out, but McConnell said that won’t be the case. He suggested that despite some unease among his party members to approve the measure, it should be approved.
“Gag and rate it anyway, even if you think there are some shortcomings,” he said of his advice for those GOP members.
The Senate Republican top has also pledged to keep the Senate in session to pass a broader relief.
“It is my intention that the Senate will not update until we have taken significant and bold new steps, beyond what is approved by the House, to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm,” he said. said McConnell.
House leaders were forced to pass a lengthy technical correction to his legislation on Monday. McConnell anticipated bipartisan support to pass that bill in the Senate, but on Tuesday noted the need for “a larger package that includes more and broader support for small businesses.”
McConnell has already said he is in contact with the chairmen of eight committees about the additional legislation that will be required and that bipartisanism will be key. The next steps include providing financial aid to people, supporting small businesses and protecting the health system.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., has started specs for a comprehensive new plan, proposing $ 750 billion to raise money for unemployment insurance, coronavirus treatment, and health care assistance. childhood emergency. The plan also includes student loans and housing payment assistance, small business aid, and expansion of hospital and care capacity.
The price tag eclipses the first coronavirus emergency aid bill of around $ 8 billion passed earlier this month to address response efforts. Late Monday, the House sent a second bill to the Senate to address paid sick leave and testing.
“We need big, bold and immediate federal action to address the crisis. The kind of targeted measures we are putting together will direct money into the economy and directly into the hands of the families who need it most,” Schumer told Senate in outlining the plans. “Importantly, this proposal will ensure that our medical professionals have the resources, including the physical space and equipment, they need to provide care and keep Americans safe.”
The talks came on the same day as the stock market you lose nearly 3,000 points in its largest daily decline in more than 30 years, and President Trump’s administration announced strict guidelines to restrict public meetings to 10 people or fewer. After the news of the latest proposals surfaced, the markets experienced some rebound.
Several senators had already tabled proposals for direct cash payments prior to the White House announcement. For example, Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney says the government should immediately issue $ 1,000 to every American so families can handle short-term obligations. It also offers small business scholarships, aid for higher education students, and deferred student loan payments for recent graduates.
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton released on Tuesday a separate plan modeled on economic aid that was approved in response to September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks and the 2008 financial crisis.
Its broader proposition includes a $ 1,000 tax refund allowance for each adult tax returner earning less than $ 100,000 per year and $ 500 for each employee. Married couples earning less than $ 200,000 per year would be eligible for a $ 2,000 discount.
The House, meanwhile, remains on a scheduled suspension this week, which could be extended. Pelosi, who returned to her home state of California on Saturday, urged members to allow as many employees as possible to telework in the meantime.
The furious pace of the proposals comes as the spread of the virus continues to pose a direct threat to Capitol construction operations, as several lawmakers’ offices remain closed due to at least two coronavirus cases among current Washington-based Hill employees. .
So far, no elected member of Congress has revealed that they are positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. However, at least two Republican senators – Ted Cruz of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida – remain in self-quarantine after exposure to people who tested positive. And in the last days, at least four legislative offices have revealed exposure to the coronavirus.
Ayesha Rascoe of NPR contributed to this report