Trump urges Congress to quickly pass $2 trillion stimulus package
President Trump on Wednesday urged Congress to pass a massive $2 trillion stimulus bill negotiated by his administration and Senate leaders.
“I encourage the House to pass this vital legislation and send the bill to my desk for signature without delay. I will sign it immediately,” Trump said at a White House press briefing Wednesday evening.
“We will have a signing, and it will be a great signing and a great day for the American worker and for American families and frankly for American companies,” he added.
Trump administration officials and Senate leaders announced overnight Tuesday that they had reached a deal, the result of days of negotiations on a third legislative package to address the domestic impact of the coronavirus.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday, with a House vote on Thursday or Friday, though a last-minute fight over unemployment benefits has snagged the bill.
The package includes funding to send $1,200 checks to many Americans, provides $367 billion for a small business loan program and creates a $500 billion corporate liquidity program through the Federal Reserve aimed to help distressed companies, including $25 billion devoted specifically to the U.S. airline industry.
Trump said he hoped the measures would prop up the U.S. economy for “a long time.”
“Hopefully a long time. We’ll see. If we have to go back, we have to go back,” Trump told reporters.
The coronavirus has sickened more than 60,000 Americans, according to Johns Hopkins University, with many of those cases reported in the New York metro area. Officials in several states have ordered nonessential businesses to close, and the Trump administration has urged Americans to avoid restaurants and bars, refrain from nonessential travel, and limit in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer.
The outbreak has had a debilitating impact on the U.S. economy, forcing businesses to close and causing a spike in unemployment numbers.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during Wednesday’s briefing thanked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for their work.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the unprecedented response from the Senate to protect American workers and American businesses,” Mnuchin said.
Earlier Wednesday, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) raised concerns that the provision on unemployment benefits would “incentivize” individuals not to return to work.
The provision includes four months of bolstered unemployment benefits and increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600. The GOP senators argued at a news conference that the provision would incentivize those making less to leave their jobs or not return to work.
Asked to address the objections at Wednesday’s White House briefing, Mnuchin said he didn’t think the provision would create incentives and said it was drafted with the blanket $600 amount because it was the only way to allow states to get money quickly to American workers.
“We wanted to have enhanced unemployment insurance. Most of these state systems have technology that is 30 years old or older,” Mnuchin told reporters.
“So, if we had the ability to customize this with much more specifics we would have. This was the only way we could assure that the states could get money out quickly in a fair way,” he continued. “I don’t think that it will create incentives.”
Mnuchin said he and Trump spoke to Republican senators about the issue, and while he wouldn’t say if they were now in agreement, the Treasury secretary said he expected the measure to pass the Senate on Wednesday evening and move to the House on Thursday.
Brett Samuels contributed.