President Trump expressed support for the massive stimulus bill being drafted in the Senate and called on Congress to pass it immediately and send it for signature, while a prominent member of the President’s task force has warned Americans to prepare for the possibility of other coronavirus “cycles” in the future.
“I encourage the House to pass this vital legislation,” said Trump during a briefing at the White House. coronavirus intervention force. “I will sign it immediately.”
Trump’s comments come as the Senate prepares the final questions for the bill with a vote scheduled to take place later that evening after two unsuccessful attempts to draft the original legislation earlier in the week.
Part of the bill for which Trump expressed support at the press conference – which surprised some – is the $ 25 million in funding for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. This is down from the $ 35 million that was included in recent legislation proposed by the Democratic House.
Some Tories have pointed to this as evidence that Democrats are trying to incorporate unrelated measures into the bill, but Trump has said he supports including it.
“I’m a fan of this,” he said. “The Kennedy Center has suffered a lot.”
While the president spent most of the press conference touting the Senate bill and talking about the coronavirus, he also had a heated chat with a reporter on a tweet he sent earlier in the week. day, accusing the media of wanting the economy to stop to harm it. – chances of election.
“The media would like to see me hurt in the election,” accused Trump. “I think there are some who would not want to see [the country] open quickly. I think there are a lot of people who would like the economy to be bad. “
The back-and-forth comes a day after Trump said at a Fox News town hall that he thought the country could reopen by the Easter holidays. He has since backed down slightly on the comment, now saying that the White House will be reassessed in April and that parts of the country less affected by the pandemic could be opened sooner.
Other members of the President’s task force spoke to the press on Thursday, including Dr. Deborah Birx, who recalled one of her family stories to pressure the Americans to distance themselves socially.
Birx said his 11-year-old grandmother brought the Spanish flu home and infected and killed his great-grandmother, who had just given birth. She added that her grandmother had to live with this for 88 years.
Together with Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the Americans that the coronavirus could return in “cycles” like other pandemics have done.
“We really have to be ready for another round,” said Fauci.
With regard to the bill that made its way to Congress, the Democrats claimed that the previous Senate bill did too much for big business and did not do enough for workers. When reaching an agreement with Republicans and the White House, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the bill was tantamount to “unemployment benefit for steroids,” and that every American laid off will have their missed wages paid. This will allow companies to stay afloat and immediately bring these workers back when things are safe, said Schumer.
Democrats said the package would specifically help replace the wages of workers on leave for four months, rather than the three months originally proposed. Workers on leave would receive whatever amount a state usually sets aside for unemployment, plus an additional $ 600 per week, with concert workers like Uber drivers covered for the first time.
The package would also give the public one-time payments of $ 1,200 per adult and $ 500 per child.
The massive economic relief program would provide a $ 367 billion program for small businesses to continue to pay while workers are forced to stay at home. One of the last issues to close was about $ 500 billion in guaranteed and subsidized loans to larger industries, including a fight over airline generosity, since the Democrats wanted them to comply with the new restrictions. carbon emissions.
Republicans have also won the inclusion of an “employee retention” tax credit that is expected to provide $ 50 billion to businesses that keep employees on their payroll and cover 50% of workers’ paychecks. . Businesses could also defer payment of 6.2% payroll tax from social security.
According to a summary, other provisions in a related package include $ 100 billion in direct aid to crisis-stricken health facilities; more than $ 4 billion to health agencies; $ 200 million to help nursing homes meet the challenge; $ 45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund; and $ 400 million in electoral assistance to help states expand the options for early voting and postal voting.
After previous opposition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday expressed lukewarm support for the Senate package, saying the bipartisan deal has gone from “company-focused to worker-first” and colleagues will examine the plan.
Even if it passes the upper house, support for the Democrat-controlled House is essential. Pelosi had muddled the talks by pursuing a bill separate from the House that contained provisions that Republicans considered to be foreign and political in nature. In a written declaration, Pelosi however indicated that it was open to the latest version of the Senate.
“America is facing a serious health crisis which is having serious repercussions on our economy. I salute the strong leadership of Chuck Schumer and the Democrats in the Senate, “she said on Wednesday. “I especially thank our chairs of the House democratic committees, who have worked hard to get the workers’ republican business proposal first, and who will now review the legislative text of this agreement with our caucus.”
Pelosi went on to say that the original Senate GOP legislation, which has been blocked by Democrats twice in the Senate, “was not a starter.”
“This bipartisan legislation takes us far down the road to meet the needs of the American people,” said Pelosi.
Brooke Singman of Fox News contributed to this report.