WASHINGTON — Sen. John Thune, the Senate Republican Whip, said Saturday that the general aspects of a stimulus plan are agreed to, but specifics are holding it up.
“There are some loose ends and some policy pieces that still haven’t been decided on but I think in the contours of the deal, the major categories, I think there’s general agreement,” said Thune, R-S.D.
He continued that “The Democrats are getting some of the things that they asked for. They’ve talked all along about addressing the needs of workers, this does that. Small businesses, this does that. They’re getting what they wanted on unemployment insurance, it’s addressing that.”
In a letter to her Democratic colleagues yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the proposal put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “is not at all pro-worker and puts corporations ahead of working people. As written, it is a non-starter.”
Thune continued that a $29 billion grant request for airlines has been “a tough issue…The question on grant dollars is something that the airlines have raised but at this point, I don’t sense support for it here or with the administration.”
Airlines have been hoping for grants instead of loans. In a statement released Thursday, major aviation industry groups including Airlines for America, the trade group representing major U.S. airlines, and the Air Line Pilots Association requested assistance “in the form of grants, unsecured loans and limited tax measures” to protect jobs and stem coronavirus-related losses.
– Savannah Behrmann
Trump questions why people aren’t sanitizing masks
Trump drew criticism on social media for questioning why masks couldn’t be sanitized, rather than being thrown away.
“Some don’t lead themselves to doing that,” Trump acknowledged, “but many do.”
Trump said that “we have very good liquids” for sanitizing masks and he indicated that is something public health officials are starting to do.
Most masks are usually authorized for one-time use, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance this week indicating masks could be reused as a last resort. The University of Nebraska Medical Center began an experimental procedure to decontaminate its masks with ultraviolet light and reuse them, according to a report in the New York Times.
“The president thinks we’re being wasteful if a potentially contaminated mask is being discarded,” tweeted Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University. “Let’s offer the White House some used masks.”
– John Fritze
Trump not requiring companies to produce medical equipment
President Donald Trump clarified Saturday that he has not required private companies to produce extra medical equipment under the Defense Production Act.
That’s because, he said, he hasn’t had to.
“Because we have so many companies making so many products,” he said. “We have the act to use in case we need it.”
Trump offered mixed signals on the point Friday, suggesting he had mandated companies to produce equipment and then later suggesting he hadn’t.
Trump and White House aides have signaled that signing the executive order invoking the Korean War-era Defense Production Act has spurred private companies to act on their own, without a direct order from Washington. Trump mentioned clothes maker Hanes as one of the companies that has voluntarily agreed to retrofit its plants to manufacture masks.
– John Fritze
Trump touts unity as his campaign lashes out at NBC journalist
At a time when the White House and Congress are negotiating a major stimulus plan, President Donald Trump says the virus has brought a level of solidarity in Washington.
“We’re getting along with Republicans and Democrats and independents and liberals and conservatives and actually it’s a very nice thing to see,” the president said.
But the milder tone toward Democratic lawmakers didn’t extend to the media.
‘How bad is this?’:‘It’s bad.’ Trump shifts tone as pandemic worsens, crisis hits economy
As Trump took the podium for his news conference, his campaign renewed an attack on NBC journalist Peter Alexander. Trump Friday called Alexander a “terrible reporter” and accused him of asking a “very nasty question” when Alexander pressed him on what his message was to “Americans who are scared” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The message sent from the Trump campaign circulated video from the exchange with the message:
“NBC’s Peter Alexander is dishonest. The Full Video Proves It.”
– John Fritze, Nicholas Wu and Caren Bohan
Trump says ‘I feel great’
President Donald Trump said “I feel great” when asked about his health after Vice President Mike Pence said he and his wife Karen Pence would get a coronavirus test.
A member of Pence’s staff, who worked at the White House, has tested positive for coronavirus.
“I feel great,” Trump said when asked about his health. “I hope I look great.”
– Michael Collins
Fauci: efforts at containing coronavirus are working
Dr. Anthony Fauci said efforts to contain the spread of the virus are working, but Americans need to continue to follow the 15-day guidelines for containing the disease.
“I think we’re getting to the solution that everybody in the country is looking for,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We know we are clearly having an effect,” Fauci said. “We will get through it, I promise you.”
Fauci encouraged Americans who do not have symptoms to not get tested. Doing so, he warned, would make it harder for health care workers to prioritize the highest risk Americans. It would also use up highly needed personal protective equipment.
“When you go in and get tested you are consuming personal protective equipment masks and gowns,” Fauci said. “Those are high priority for the healthcare workers who were taking care of people who have coronavirus disease.”
Fauci also repeated the call for health care providers to “Please, put off, cancel, elective medical and surgical procedures.”
– Michael Collins, John Fritze, Richard Wolf
Mike Pence says he, wife will get coronavirus test
Vice President Mike Pence he and his wife will be tested for coronavirus later this afternoon.
Pence confirms that an aide who tested positive for coronavirus worked at the White House. The vice president said the aide was last in the White House on Monday. “He’s doing well,” Pence said. “He had mild cold like symptoms.”
The vice president also said coronavirus testing is expanding rapidly across the country and that 195,000 Americans who are symptomatic have been tested.
Pence said of those 195,000 tested, 19,343 have tested positive for the virus.
‘We are heartbroken’:Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie honor NBC employee who tested positive for coronavirus
Pence said the Department of Health and Human Services just placed an order for a half a billion dollars worth of masks that will be made available to first responders across the country.
– Michael Collins and John Fritze
Trump praises private sector for stepping in on coronavirus response
President Donald Trump said the private sector is stepping up to adapt manufacturing plants to meet the demand for swabs, masks, ventilators and other equipment especially needed by front-line health care workers to combat the coronavirus.
“There’s been a clear call to action to the private sector,” Trump said. “They are really in sixth gear.”
Trump said the company Hanes is retrofitting parts of its plants to produce masks. “They are in that process right now.”
“Every American has a role to play in defending our nation from this invisible, horrible enemy,” Trump said. “We will be successful – hopefully much sooner than people would think.”
– John Fritze and Michael Collins
Trump: Congress ‘very close’ to stimulus deal
President Donald Trump said he thinks congressional leaders are “getting very close” to reaching a deal on an economic recovery package to address the impacts of coronavirus.
Republican and Democratic senators reconvened Saturday, extending marathon negotiations from Friday that did not result in a deal on a coronavirus stimulus package.
Trump says the virus has brought a level of solidarity in Washington.
“We’re getting along with Republicans and Democrats and independents and liberals and conservatives and actually it’s a very nice thing to see,” Trump said during a Saturday afternoon news conference at the White House.
Trump said he talked today with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the president of Mexico to talk about efforts that can be taken to control the virus.
What else was said at the news conference:
- Trump said there are now 148 foreign countries with coronavirus cases. “You talk about a spread – you talk about a violent spread,” he said.
“The FDA has moved mountains” to get approval on “things that maybe work, we’ll see, it won’t take long,” Trump said.
– Michael Collins, John Fritze and Richard Wolf
McConnell: ‘important progress’ being made on stimulus
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “important progress” is being made on negotiations for an economic stimulus package to curb the effects of coronavirus.
But the Kentucky Republican said a deal “has yet to be finalized” despite still sticking to a plan to vote on the bill Monday.
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been negotiating on a bill to provide cash assistance to Americans and relief for businesses, among other provisions. McConnell set a midnight Friday deadline to come up with a plan, but that passed without an agreement.
McConnell outlined the four objectives of the Senate Republican plan:
- Address the demands of “individuals and families as quickly as possible”
- Deliver relief to small businesses
- Bring stability to the economy and “prevent as many layoffs as possible”
- Rush resources to frontline healthcare workers and providers
Addressing Democrats’ concerns about being included in the negotiations, McConnell said no legislation would move to the Senate floor “that does not contain ideas from both parties.”
McConnell also discussed the plan’s proposed assistance to “key national industries” like airlines and said they were suffering “through no fault of their own.”
“Key national industries who are hemorrhaging business through no fault of their own but due to the government’s own public health guidance have made it clear in order to retain their workers, they need help, and they need it now,” he said.
– Nicholas Wu
Schumer: Democrats want ‘a paycheck every month’ for Americans
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate is still working on an economic stimulus plan to curb the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said negotiations between Democrats and Republicans went “late into the night last night, and continue through the day today. I’ve spoken to Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin several times, as well as President Trump to keep them apprised as we continue to work through a number of issues.”
Schumer also said people should get “a paycheck every month.”
“It should go for as long as the crisis lasts. We want to fund it for at least four months, maybe six,” he said.
Schumer outlined Senate Democrats’ two main priorities for a stimulus bill:
- A “massive infusion of resources to our hospitals or medical facilities, or any other public health infrastructure.”
- The plan should “put workers first” by putting “unemployment insurance on steroids.”
Addressing relief for business industries, Schumer said “we have to include strict conditions that put workers first” including:
- No layoffs
- No salary cuts
- No salary increases for corporate executives
- Workers will be rehired at previous wages
- No stock buybacks
– Nicholas Wu
Trump pushing drug, despite experts’ hesitations
President Donald Trump continues to push for a malaria drug to be given to patients with coronavirus even though one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts questions whether it would work.
In a pair of early morning tweets on Saturday, Trump again suggested that a combination of hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin should be made available to patients who have coronavirus.
“Taken together,” Trump tweeted, the drugs “have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
Trump has been trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to speed up approval for the drugs to be given to coronavirus patients.
“The FDA has moved mountains – Thank you!” he tweeted, adding that he hopes the drugs will can be put into use “IMMEDIATELY.”
“PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE,” he wrote in all-caps.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Friday indications that the drug could help coronavirus patients are “anecdotal.” The drug has not been tested on coronavirus patients in a controlled clinical trial, he said, “so you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”
Fauci said the Food and Drug Administration is looking for a way to make the drug available for emergency use, but in a way that provides the government with data about whether it’s safe and effective.
Stephen Hahn, head of the FDA, warned Thursday against giving “false hope” that the drug could help coronavirus patients.
“We need to look at it,” he said. But, “we need the data. We need the information to make the absolute best decisions for the American people.”
– Michael Collins
Senators meeting again on coronavirus stimulus
Negotiations continue in the Senate over a massive stimulus plan to blunt the economic effects of the coronavirus as the spread of the disease worsens and economic losses mount.
Washington, D.C. announced its first death from the disease on Friday, and nationwide, there are more than 260 deaths and over 19,600 confirmed cases.
Republican and Democratic senators reconvene at noon Saturday, extending marathon negotiations from Friday that did not result in a deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had set midnight Friday as the deadline for an agreement.
McConnell’s plan, which was released in full on Thursday, would, among other provisions, send direct payments of $1,200 to individuals and provide assistance to businesses affected by coronavirus.
McConnell, R-Ky., aims to pass the bill by Monday.
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In a letter to Democratic colleagues released Friday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the stimulus “as written” a “non-starter,” saying it “puts corporations ahead of working people.”
The top Senate health care committee Democrat, Sen. Patty Murry, D-Wash., called McConnell’s plan “completely inadequate” as it relates to immediate relief for Americans and investment in public health infrastructure.
Sanders campaign says it raised more than $2 million for coronavirus relief
Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign announced Saturday morning it raised more than $2 million over a period of 48 hours for coronavirus relief.
“The people supporting this campaign have made more than 50,000 donations to help those most impacted by coronavirus because they understand that now more than ever it is important that we are in this together,” said Robin Curran, the Sanders campaign’s digital fundraising director.
The campaign said it sent text messages and emails to its campaign list to raise money for organizations assisting the coronavirus relief effort, including Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, One Fair Wage Emergency Fund, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
– Nicholas Wu
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