Trump officials urge U.S. Senate to pass House coronavirus bill and
pursue more economic stimulus
Send a link to a friend
[March 17, 2020]
By David Morgan and Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's administration and leading Republicans urged the Senate on
Monday to swiftly back a House-passed coronavirus aid plan and seriously
consider massive new economic stimulus legislation that was still under
As he left meetings with Senate leadership, Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin said he was seeking a "big number" for additional economic
stimulus legislation to counter the virus' impact.
"We will be looking for support for small and medium-sized businesses,
we'll be looking for support for certain industries that we've talked
about that are particularly hard hit. I've talked about airlines,
hotels, others, and we will be looking at a general stimulus,” Mnuchin
Eric Ueland, the White House legislative liaison, said congressional
action on the next coronavirus stimulus package needed to be fast and
unimpeded by the potential price tag.
"We can't let weeks and months get under our feet here. We need to be
very swift," Ueland said.
The pressure from the Trump administration came as the Senate grappled
over what to do with the multibillion-dollar coronavirus economic
stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-run House of Representatives on
Saturday. It was already the second measure of its kind. Previously,
Congress passed and Trump signed an $8.3 billion package to battle the
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters the Senate was
“anxious” to get the latest House-passed bill, which was on its way to
his chamber. He said he hoped senators would "pass it" once it arrived.
That was likely to happen now that the House passed a set of technical
fixes to the bill on Monday evening that appeared to have the support of
Democratic and Republican leaders in the House.
The tally of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases has multiplied in recent
weeks, now surpassing 4,300. At least 80 people in the United States
have died of the respiratory virus, which has pummeled financial markets
and upended daily life, with sweeping restrictions on many social
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, also emerging from the session with
Mnuchin and Ueland, said the Senate would need to create a mechanism to
get liquidity to small businesses, so that they could continue to
operate and pay their employees, including those who are home. The
continued operation of the airlines was a matter of national security,
[to top of second column]
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen in Washington, U.S., February 4,
2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
Rubio said the Senate would work to pass the third measure this week
containing the much-larger stimulus, because of uncertainty about
the Senate schedule caused by the coronavirus outbreak. “I don’t
think we can assume that we can keep reconvening the Senate every
week," he said.
Neither administration officials nor Senate leaders were yet willing
to say such a large bill could move that quickly through the Senate.
'BIG, BOLD, URGENT ACTION'
Those concerns were echoed earlier in the day by Republican Senator
Mitt Romney, who proposed sending $1,000 to each adult American to
help "meet their short-term obligations and increase spending in the
Senate Democrats were also talking on Monday about big aid measures
to come. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged an additional
$750 billion to address the crisis.
"We will need big, bold, urgent federal action to deal with this
crisis," Schumer said. He outlined a plan to fund a range of
emergency operations, including boosting hospital capacity,
expanding jobless benefits, delivering help to small businesses and
funding childcare for healthcare workers. The proposal approached
the magnitude of the response to the 2008 financial crisis.
At the opposite end of the political spectrum from Schumer,
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas also called for a more
aggressive response to the outbreak, saying tax breaks in the
House-passed bill were not structured in a way to help employees of
businesses that have to shut down.
"The House bill doesn’t go far enough and it doesn’t go fast
enough," Cotton, a conservative, said in remarks on the Senate
The measure the House passed last week would require paid sick leave
for some workers, expanded unemployment compensation and nearly $1
billion in additional money to help feed children, homebound senior
citizens and others, and has White House backing.
An aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House was now
scheduled to return from a recess on March 24, a day later than
(Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Cornwell Richard Cowan and
Patricia Zengerle; Writing by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jonathan
Oatis and Peter Cooney)
[© 2020 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2020 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.