Pence, Fauci to brief lawmakers on coronavirus
Vice President Pence and other top members of President Trump’s task force on the novel coronavirus will hold conference calls this week with all House and Senate lawmakers, officials said.
Pence and his team will hold separate telephone briefings Wednesday with House Democrats and House Republicans. On Thursday, they will brief Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans.
Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Rear Adm. John Polowczyk are expected to join the calls.
The four briefings come as the Trump administration, governors and congressional lawmakers struggle to combat the deadly virus — and the fallout from shutting down the U.S. economy in order to stop the spread.
More than 11,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits is expected to surge much higher than the record 10 million who filed unemployment claims during the past two weeks.
Last month, Trump signed into law a historic $2 trillion coronavirus health and economic rescue package — the CARES Act — that Republicans and Democrats in Congress had raced to complete. But there is already acknowledgement from the White House and congressional leaders that more aid will be needed in the coming weeks and months for small businesses, cities and counties, and the millions who’ve lost their jobs.
On a call with rank-and-file Democrats on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the price tag of the next aid package, which she’s branded as CARES 2, would need to be at least $1 trillion. But House and Senate lawmakers, who are hunkering down at home in their districts, are not expected to return to Washington until April 20 at the earliest.
House Democrat leaders have been holding near-daily conference calls with their members on the coronavirus response. On the Monday call, former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen warned Democrats that this week’s jobless numbers will be even higher than the jaw-dropping 6 million who filed for unemployment benefits last week.
After the Pence briefing on Wednesday, House Democrats said they will hear from Sylvia Burwell, who served as President Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.