Overnight Health Care: Trump triggers emergency powers in coronavirus fight | McConnell sets first stimulus vote for Sunday | Five sticking points for stimulus talks | Treasury delays tax filing deadline | Dems push insurers to cover virus tests

Overnight Health Care: Trump triggers emergency powers in coronavirus fight | McConnell sets first stimulus vote for Sunday | Five sticking points for stimulus talks | Treasury delays tax filing deadline | Dems push insurers to cover virus tests
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Welcome to Friday's Overnight Health Care. 

We made it to Friday! Which is great, if you can enjoy time at home while not working from home. 

The Senate though is not getting the weekend off. Republicans in the upper chamber released their $1 trillion coronavirus economic package, and the first vote is scheduled for Sunday.

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Meanwhile, President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE is giving conflicting messages about whether or not he will actually use the powers in the Defense Production Act, and the U.S. is restricting travel along the border with Mexico.

We'll start with the latest from the president...

 

Trump triggers Defense Production Act in coronavirus fight

President said Friday he will trigger emergency war powers to accelerate the production of medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Trump told Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-N.Y.) in a phone call on Friday morning that he would use the Defense Production Act, according to Schumer's office. 

During a news conference Friday, Trump said he has put the act "into gear."

Will he or won't he: But we're still not really sure what that means. During the news conference, Trump gave at least three different answers; he invoked the act last night, he said it doesn't need to be invoked because many companies are offering their services, and then he said he has asked companies to manufacture medical supplies.

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The law would allow the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply and sell them to the federal government. The Department of Health and Human Services, which has been given that authority under an executive order Trump signed Wednesday, did not respond to a request for clarification. 

Read more here.

 

US announces travel restrictions with Mexico, citing coronavirus

The U.S. is restricting travel along the border with Mexico in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump administration announced Friday.

Trump announced at a White House press briefing that nonessential travel would no longer be permitted between the U.S. and Mexico. The restrictions are the same ones applied to the U.S.-Canada border, and trade and commerce will be allowed to continue.

The president said the move was intended to “reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would badly deplete” health care resources in the country. Trump has spent the last three years railing against immigrants pouring in from Mexico and pushing for a wall along the border.

Read more here.

 

And there were some fireworks at White House briefing...

 

Trump clashes with NBC reporter

Trump had a heated exchange with NBC reporter Peter Alexander during the coronavirus briefing on Friday, telling the newsman he should be ashamed of himself.

Trump was angered after Alexander asked whether he was giving Americans a false sense of hope with his optimism about a malaria drug's potential use in response to the coronavirus.

The exchange began relatively calmly after Alexander asked Trump some questions about the drug.

Click here for the exchange.

The clash highlighted the shortcomings of the White House briefings on the coronavirus response. More on that here.

 

Treasury delays tax deadline to July 15

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election Democrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer MORE on Friday said that the deadline for filing tax returns is being moved from April 15 to July 15, after his department earlier this week similarly extended the due date for tax payments amid the coronavirus.

"At @realDonaldTrump’s direction, we are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15," Mnuchin tweeted. "All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties."

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Read more here.

 

More from the administration:

Ivanka Trump tests negative for coronavirus

Pence staffer tests positive for coronavirus

Trump waives student loan payments for 60 days, K-12 standardized tests

Economist Kevin Hassett returns to White House to advise Trump amid coronavirus

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Majority of Americans now say they approve of Trump's handling of coronavirus: poll

 

Meanwhile over on Capitol Hill...

 

McConnell sets first coronavirus stimulus package vote for Sunday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) has set up the first vote related to a mammoth stimulus package over the coronavirus for Sunday.

McConnell on Friday teed up a “shell” bill — essentially a placeholder for the agreement, if one is reached.

McConnell’s decision to tee up the spending package comes as senators, their staff and top administration officials are still behind closed doors trying to reach an agreement.

The package is expected to cost approximately $1 trillion, though GOP senators didn’t rule out that the number could climb as they negotiate with Democrats.

Read more here.

Sticking points: The negotiations are focused on four groups: health care, small business, tax and impacted industries like airlines.

Click here for a breakdown of the five big sticking points.

 

Is $1 trillion enough?

Economic experts are warning that the $1.2 trillion stimulus proposal under negotiation in the Senate may fall well short of addressing the massive fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

More on that here.

 

And don't forget about the fight over the rebate checks...

 

Democrats balk at $1,200 rebate checks in stimulus plan

Senate Republican and Democratic negotiators are battling over a central component of President Trump’s stimulus plan: sending out hundreds of billions of dollars in rebate checks to middle-income Americans.

Senate GOP negotiators argue that $1,200 direct payments to individuals are the best way to get money flowing through the economy quickly, while Democrats say disbursing cash benefits so broadly doesn’t do enough for low-income Americans and people who lose their jobs.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done MORE (D-N.Y.) said Congress should pass a massive expansion of unemployment benefits instead of simply doling out checks to individuals and families, regardless of whether they miss work because of health quarantines.

Read more here.

The rebate checks are also part of a larger debate: Tax experts are urging lawmakers to make changes to the coronavirus rebate checks being considered by Senate Republicans.

Economic policy analysts at think tanks have flagged several aspects of the checks proposal that they think are problematic, including the fact that the lowest-income people wouldn't qualify for the full amount of the checks, and that the check amounts that people would receive in the near-term are based on their 2018 income.

More on that here.

 

And there's a new coronavirus controversy...

 

Four senators sold stocks before coronavirus threat crashed market

Four senators sold stocks shortly after a January briefing in the Senate on the novel coronavirus outbreak, unloading shares that plummeted in value a month later as the stock market crashed in the face of a global pandemic.

According to financial disclosure forms, Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerHarris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Trump says Herschel Walker will enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGillibrand expects vote on military justice bill in fall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails 'authoritarian regime' Trump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore MORE (R-Okla.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinNearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (D-Calif.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenate starts infrastructure debate amid 11th-hour drama The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE (R-N.C.) each sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks within days of the Senate holding a classified briefing on Jan. 24 with Trump administration officials on the threat of the coronavirus outbreak.

The sales raise questions about whether the senators violated the STOCK Act, a law that bans members of Congress from making financial trades based on nonpublic information.

Sylvan Lane explains here.

Burr calls for investigation: Burr is asking the Senate Ethics Committee launch an investigation into his stock trading history and denying that he used classified information in the decision to sell stocks.

More on that here.

 

Democrats press insurers to cover all coronavirus testing

Democratic senators are urging health insurance companies to cover all tests when a patient has a "presumptive" COVID-19 diagnosis, not just the limited official diagnostic. 

In a letter sent Friday to the CEOs of six of the country's largest insurers, a group of Democratic senators asked for a commitment to completely cover all services associated with a COVID-19 diagnosis, like imaging and blood work, even if there has not been an official test performed.

The Democrats, led by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 Trump says he'd like to see Chris Sununu challenge Hassan Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  MORE (N.H.), pointed to the current scarcity of diagnostics tests for the novel coronavirus as the reason.

The letter was sent to the CEOs of Aetna, Cigna, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth, as well as to the CEO of the lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans.

Read more here.

 

More from the Senate:

Graham: Coronavirus stimulus will take 'a hell of a lot more' than $1 trillion

Schumer slams 'inadequate' GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Ernst calls for public presidential campaign funds to go to masks, protective equipment

 

House chairman calls on Trump administration to appoint medical supply coordinator

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottBiden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Now is the time to end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities House passes bill to ease standards for age discrimination cases MORE (D-Va.) on Friday called on the Trump administration to appoint a designated official to coordinate the efforts to distribute adequate protective gear and supplies to health workers across the United States.

In a letter to Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceOfficers' powerful Capitol riot testimony underscores Pelosi's partisan blunder RealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement MORE, the chair of the coronavirus task force, Scott and Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsIn honor of Mother's Day, lawmakers should pass the Momnibus Act Officials discuss proposals for fixing deep disparities in education digital divide The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major win MORE (D-N.C.) argued that having someone dedicated to addressing the nationwide shortage of medical supplies would help improve coordination across all states.

“There is no apparent coordination to ensure newly manufactured respirators and other equipment are being distributed to the highest priority areas as they become available,” Scott and Adams, who chairs the Education and Labor subcommittee on workforce protections, wrote. “It is essential that this life-saving PPE [personal protection equipment] is directed to the facilities most in need, and this requires a higher level of coordination than now exists."

Read more here .

 

More from the House

Coronavirus anxiety spreads across Capitol Hill

Schiff: Remote voting would not compromise national security

McCaul slams China for expelling American journalists in letter to Chinese ambassador

 

Over in the states...

 

Cuomo orders nonessential workers in New York to stay home

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday mandated that all nonessential workers across the state stay home to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Cuomo, at a press conference, added the executive order will not apply to those who work in essential services, including people who work in pharmacies and grocery stores.

The new, more restrictive rules come as the total number of cases in New York has climbed well above 7,000.

Read more here.

 

Illinois governor announces shelter in place order

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Friday afternoon announced that the state will issue a “shelter in place” order starting this weekend and running through April 7.

The order takes effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will require all 12.7 million residents to stay home with few exceptions as state officials seek to combat the spreading coronavirus.

Read more here.

 

Indiana postpones primary due to coronavirus fears

The seemingly never-ending 2020 primary season will keep going. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) announced Friday that his state will postpone its May 5 primary to June 2, making the Hoosier State the seventh to delay its nominating contest over the coronavirus.

“The right of citizens to elect their leaders in a free and open election is one of the cornerstones of America. In order to balance that right with the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters, delaying Indiana’s primary election is the right move as we continue to do all we can to protect Hoosiers’ health,” Holcomb said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

More from The Hill on the coronavirus fallout

Doctor behind 'flatten the curve' urges bipartisan response to outbreak

Yelp: Delivery and take-out twice as popular as usual amid coronavirus

UK orders all pubs, restaurants and gyms to close

Bowser extends social distancing period for DC until April 27

Ohio to close senior centers on Monday

US woman gets $34,927.43 bill for coronavirus treatment

Italy announces biggest one-day increase for coronavirus death toll

Irish health officials to review 3D-printed ventilator

China issues 'solemn apology' to doctor reprimanded for early coronavirus warnings

YouTube, Netflix reduce stream quality to ease strain on internet in Europe

Marijuana sales surge amid coronavirus outbreak

 

What we’re reading

As coronavirus spreads widely, millions of older Americans live in counties with no ICU beds (Kaiser Health News

Cruise ships kept sailing as coronavirus spread. Travelers and health experts question why. (Washington Post)

Understanding what works: How the coronavirus is being beaten back (STAT

Why the coronavirus has been so successful (The Atlantic

Appeals court weighs legality of ‘junk' insurance plans amid COVID-19 outbreak (Modern Healthcare)

 

State by state 

9 states reopen ACA insurance enrollment to broaden health coverage (NPR

‘Chilling’ plans: Who gets care as Washington state hospitals fill up? (The New York Times

Actions in New Rochelle proving to be blueprint for country, officials say (Lohud)

The Hill op-eds

COVID-19 patients should not face surprise medical bills

Telemedicine in the time of coronavirus

We need a coronavirus vaccine — I just wish we could afford it