On The Money: McConnell introduces third coronavirus relief proposal | Democrats seek bigger stimulus with less aid for business | Washington scrambles to prevent unemployment spike

On The Money: McConnell introduces third coronavirus relief proposal | Democrats seek bigger stimulus with less aid for business | Washington scrambles to prevent unemployment spike
© Greg Nash

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money, where we're going to be brushing up on the STOCK Act.  I'm Sylvan Lane, and here's your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL--McConnell introduces third coronavirus relief proposal: Senate Republicans have reached a deal among themselves on legislation for the third coronavirus funding package amid growing concerns about a widespread outbreak in the United States. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans 13 things to know for today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) announced the agreement on the Senate floor, noting that Republicans would begin negotiating with Democrats on Friday.

Sixty votes would be needed to pass a coronavirus bill, meaning it will have to be bipartisan.

The nearly 250-page bill includes direct financial help for Americans, relief for small businesses, help for impacted industries like airlines and efforts to bolster the health care system. The Hill's Jordain Carney breaks it down here.

 

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Democrats think bigger, seek less help for businesses:

House Democrats are also seeking a far bigger plan than what's been proposed by Senate Republicans. 

On a Thursday conference call featuring more than 200 members of the House Democratic caucus, lawmakers one by one laid out a sweeping wish list of provisions they want to see included in the nascent package, including:

  • A boost in infrastructure spending, 
  • An expansion of Social Security benefits,
  • And funding for states to set up an all-mail voting system in the event the pandemic extends into November's elections.

The Hill's Mike Lillis and Scott Wong read us out on the call here.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Washington scrambles to prevent massive unemployment spike: The coronavirus is quickly taking a sledgehammer to the historically low unemployment rates that have defined much of President Trump's time in office.

The pandemic's toll on the economy is now a key focus of Washington's response to the growing public health crisis, with Congress and the White House scrambling to provide relief for struggling workers and businesses.

Restaurants and bars have already initiated severe staff cutbacks, with similar actions underway in the travel and entertainment industries, leading to widespread layoffs at companies large and small.

Weekly unemployment insurance claims spiked to 281,000 in the second week of March, up 70,000 from the previous week, according to figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

And the outlook is only expected to worsen, experts say.

"Today's unemployment claims numbers were just the tip of the iceberg, but it looks like a very sharp tip," said Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The Hill's Niv Eils explains why here.

 

Burr sold significant amount of stock a week before market crash started: report:

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze Burr2020 on my mind: Democrats have to think like Mitch McConnell Loeffler traded .4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic Before this pandemic ends, intel agencies should prepare for a world of threats MORE (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold a high volume of stocks the week before the stock market began its steep dive due to fears of coronavirus, ProPublica reports.

According to the investigative publication, Burr offloaded between $582,029 and $1.56 million of stock on Feb. 13 in almost 30 different transactions.

At the time, Burr and the intelligence committee were reportedly receiving daily briefings regarding the coronavirus.

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The STOCK Act prohibits lawmakers and their staffs from making trades based on nonpublic information.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Stock markets clawed back deep early losses on Thursday, closing in on positive territory as the government's plans for a major economic stimulus became more clear.
  • Former White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said Thursday that "if everybody stays home for six months" for social distancing during the pandemic "it's going to be like the Great Depression."
  • The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is asking the federal government to create a $1.4 trillion fund in loans to provide liquidity to manufacturers and small businesses struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.