Saturday March 28th, 2020 4:00PM

Hill talks continue as Trump appears to waffle on shutdown

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Trump administration officials and congressional leaders struggled Monday to finalize a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package as the coronavirus crisis deepened, even as President Donald Trump seemed to suggest he had qualms about extending the current 15-day suggested shutdown.

“I didn't expect to be starting off my week with such a dire message for America,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “CBS This Morning," as he warned the numbers will grow get worse this week. “Things are going to get worse before they get better. We really need everyone to understand this...and lean into what they can do to flatten the curve.”

Only hours before the surgeon general's dire warning, Trump suggested in a tweet that the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak in a tweet that contradicted the advice of medical experts across the nation.


Trump officials and congressional leaders, meanwhile, were to resume talks at 9 a.m. after working through the night on the massive $2 trillion economic rescue plan. Democrats had derailed the plan Sunday night, arguing it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin exited the Capitol just before midnight, struck an optimistic note: “We're very close," he said, adding negotiators would work through the night.

“Our nation cannot afford a game of chicken," warned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., his voice rising on the Senate floor Sunday night. His goal is to vote Monday. The Senate will re-convene at noon.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, also sounded an optimistic note.

“This bill is going to affect this country and the lives of Americans, not just for the next few days, but in the next few months and years -- so we have to make sure it is good, he said. '"There were some serious problems with the bill leader McConnell laid down. Huge amounts of corporate bailout funds without restrictions or without oversight -- you wouldn’t even know who is getting the money. Not enough money for hospitals, nurses, PPE, masks, all the health care needs. No money for state and local government, many of whom would go broke. Many other things."

But Schumer said they were making progress in dealing with those issues. "We're getting closer and closer. And I’m very hopeful, is how I’d put it, that we can get a bill in the morning.”

On the economic front, the Federal Reserve announced Monday it will lend to small and large businesses and local governments as well as extend its bond buying programs as part of a series of sweeping steps to support the flow of credit through an economy ravaged by the viral outbreak.

The Fed said it will set up three new lending facilities that will provide up to $300 billion by purchasing corporate bonds, buying a wider range of municipal bonds, and purchasing asset-backed securities.

It also says it will buy an unlimited amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities in an effort hold down interest rates and ensure those markets function smoothly.

With a population on edge and shell-shocked financial markets poised for the new work week, Washington labored under the size and scope of the rescue package that's more ambitious than any in recent times — larger than the 2008 bank bailout and 2009 recovery act combined.

Democrats say the largely GOP-led effort did not go far enough to provide health care and worker aid and fails to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations. They voted to block its advance.

Democrats won a concession — to provide four months of expanded unemployment benefits, rather than just three as proposed, according to an official granted anonymity to discuss the private talks. The jobless pay also extends to self-employed and so-called gig workers.

Alarms were being sounded from coast to coast about the wave of coronavirus cases about to crash onto the nation's health system.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had dire, urgent news from the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter: “April and May are going to be a lot worse,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He all but begged Washington to help procure ventilators and other medical supplies and accused the Republican president of “not lifting a finger” to help.

Trump urged Congress to get a deal done and, during the Sunday briefing, responded to criticism that his administration was sluggish to act. He cited his cooperation with the three states hardest hit — New York, Washington and California — and invoked a measure to give governors flexibility in calling up the national guard under their control, while the federal government covers the bill.

But even as Trump stressed federal-local partnerships, some governors, including Republican Greg Abbott of Texas, expressed unhappiness with Washington's response. The president himself took a swipe hours earlier at Gov. J. B. Pritzker, D-Ill., saying that he and “a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News" should not be “blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings."

In recent days, Trump invoked the Defense Protection Act, a rarely used, decades-old authority that can be used to compel the private sector to manufacture needed medical supplies like masks and ventilators. Officials said Sunday that it would be used voluntarily and businesses would not be compelled to act.

“We are a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump, who has repeatedly railed against socialism overseas and among Democrats.

Two days after he lashed out at a reporter who asked about his message to frightened Americans, Trump said, "For those worried and afraid, please know as long as I am your president, you can feel confident that you have a leader who will always fight for you.”

The urgency to act is mounting, as jobless claims skyrocket and fnancial markets are eager for signs that Washington can soften the blow of the healthcare crisis and what experts say is a looming recession. Stock futures declined sharply as Trump spoke Sunday evening.

Officials late Sunday put the price tag of the ballooning rescue package at nearly $2 trillion. That does not include additional measures being taken by the Federal Reserve to shore up the economy.

Central to the package is as much as $350 billion for small businesses to keep making payroll while workers are forced to stay home. There is also a one-time rebate check of about $1,200 per person, or $3,000 for a family of four, as well as the extended unemployment benefits.

Hospitals, Mnuchin said, will get approximately $110 billion for the expected influx of sick patients.

The treasury secretary said a significant part of the package will involve working with the Federal Reserve for up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the economy with “broad-based lending programs.”

But Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have pushed for add-ons, including food security aid, small business loans and other measures for workers.

They warned the draft plan's $500 billion for corporations does not put enough restraints on business, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs is weak and the limits on executive pay are only for two years.

“We're not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “We're here to help workers, we're here to help hospitals.”

The president, when pressed by a reporter, dodged a question as to whether his own business would seek federal funds.

With Sunday's failed vote, McConnell angrily blamed Pelosi, who returned to Washington for a top-level meeting, saying she “poured cold water” over the draft plan. But any measure from the Senate also needs to pass the House.

The details are coming from drafts of both bills circulating among lobbyists but not yet released to the public. They were obtained by The Associated Press.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mildf or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.


Bev Banks contributed. Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Hope Yen, Mary Clare Jalonick, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Alan Fram and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.


The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places
9:00AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Pompeo in Kabul in effort to revive flagging peace process
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Kabul on an urgent visit to try to move forward a U.S. peace deal signed last month with the Taliban
9:00AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Hunt for medical gear to fight virus becomes all-consuming
The hunt for ventilators and other medical supplies is consuming the U.S. and Europe, as new virus infections soar
8:55AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Germany approves aid package for small companies
The German government has approved an aid package to help companies and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic
8:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Puerto Rico's 2nd fatality a U.S. tourist
The second death from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico is a tourist from the United States
7:34AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: 2 who tested positive for virus on ship die
Japan's health ministry says two former passengers of a cruise ship have died
7:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Tokyo Olympics seem sure to happen -- but in 2021, not 2020
The Tokyo Olympics are going to happen — but almost surely in 2021 rather than in four months as planned
5:06AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: British officials put new jury trials on hold
British justice officials have put new jury trials on hold as the court system places safety measures in place amid the coronavirus crisis
4:57AM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: US Secret Service employee tests positive
The U.S. Secret Service says an employee has tested positive for the coronavirus
4:24AM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
US futures, world shares sink as virus crisis deepens
U.S. futures are down more than 3% after shares fell in Europe and Asia as shutdowns aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic expanded around the globe
8:12AM ( 1 hour ago )
Congressional rescue talks churn as virus crisis deepens
The latest economic rescue package being negotiated in Washington is now nearly $2 trillion
5:55AM ( 3 hours ago )
2020 Watch: Can President Donald Trump reclaim control?
The coronavirus has grounded the 2020 presidential race — but not ended it
5:23AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
New York quiets to slow virus as state becomes next hot spot
New York ordered most residents to stay home from work and everyone to keep their distance as the state quickly becomes one of the world's biggest coronavirus hot spots
9:14PM ( 12 hours ago )
The Latest: United Arab Emirates suspends passenger flights
The United Arab Emirates has announced that it is suspending all passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the country for two weeks to stymie the spread of a new virus
8:47PM ( 12 hours ago )
Business Fallout: Supercomputers vs. coronavirus; more masks
IBM is offering up its speedy supercomputer to help combat the new coronavirus
8:36PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Air Canada lays off 5,000, Airbus gets loan to endure crisis
Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as demand plunges amid travel controls imposed to fight the coronavirus
7:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
Air Canada lays off 5,000, France tries to save food supply
Air Canada is laying off more than 5,000 flight attendants as demand plunges amid travel controls imposed to fight the coronavirus
6:14AM ( 3 hours ago )
Infantino eyes reboot for soccer to avoid crisis
FIFA president Gianni Infantino says the future of soccer could be fewer games and fewer top competitions to help avoid a financial crisis
6:08AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
At a glance: Nearly $1.4 trillion coronavirus rescue package
Congress and the White House are negotiating a nearly $1.4 trillion rescue package of healthcare and economic aid amid the coronavirus outbreak and national shutdown
5:26PM ( 15 hours ago )
Business Fallout: Marriott to furlough thousands of workers
Marriott said that it will furlough thousands of corporate employees at its U.S. headquarters and globally
1:45PM ( 19 hours ago )
As crisis deepens, Congress close on economic rescue deal
Negotiators from Congress and the White House were set to resume talks Sunday, racing to push a $1.4 trillion economic rescue package across the finish line
11:33AM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Economic rescue tops $1 trillion as negotiations continue
Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House have pushed into Saturday night on a ballooning $1 trillion-plus economic rescue package to beat back the impact of the coronavirus
9:00PM ( 1 day ago )
Lower-division soccer clubs among hardest hit by pandemic
The suspension of soccer competitions because of the coronavirus has taken a toll on top teams everywhere
9:01AM ( 2 days ago )
Virus outbreak poses massive challenges for US charities
With its global scope and its staying power, the coronavirus outbreak poses unprecedented challenges for charities and nonprofit groups that rely on donations
8:58AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Markets
What you need to know today about the virus outbreak
A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places
9:00AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Pompeo in Kabul in effort to revive flagging peace process
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Kabul on an urgent visit to try to move forward a U.S. peace deal signed last month with the Taliban
9:00AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Hunt for medical gear to fight virus becomes all-consuming
The hunt for ventilators and other medical supplies is consuming the U.S. and Europe, as new virus infections soar
8:55AM ( 22 minutes ago )
The Latest: South Africa infections grow by 402 overnight
 South Africa's coronavirus cases jumped to 402 on Monday to make it the country with the most cases in Africa
8:49AM ( 28 minutes ago )
The Latest: Russia backs IOC's plan for Tokyo Olympics
Russia has backed the International Olympic Committee’s approach of taking time to consider postponing the Tokyo Games and condemned the body's critics
8:41AM ( 36 minutes ago )