Mitch McConnell is expected to unveil a $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus package Thursday after the Senate passed a multi-billion dollar phase two bill Wednesday and Donald Trump signed it into law late that night.
After putting out the bill, the Senate majority leader will begin talks with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to negotiate the third coronavirus economic relief package, according to Politico.
Although it is unclear how long the negotiations will take and when the Senate is expected to vote on phase three, McConnell told senators not to go too far away from Washington D.C.
‘I recommend senators stay close,’ he said from the Senate floor Wednesday night. ‘While we don’t know exactly how long it will take to get this done, everyone knows that we need to do it as quickly as possible because the situation demands it. So we’ll keep senators posted.’
‘I hope they don’t go too far away,’ he continued – even though the House began recess earlier this week and members are back in their home states as coronavirus cases continue to spike.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is set to unveil a $1 trillion phase three coronavirus economic stimulus package Thursday
The move came after Donald trump signed the phase two bill Wednesday night after the Senate passed the $105 billion measure
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN Wednesday night that to accept the new package, the bailouts for big firms needed to come with the assurance that employees would not be fired or have their salaries cut
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took the lead in negotiating the $105 billion phase two package with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week and last, but it appears McConnell will take a more direct role in discussing the new bill with Democratic leadership.
‘The one thing I did tell [Mnuchin] as well, though, if there are going to be some of these corporate bailouts, we need to make sure workers and labor come first,’ Schumer said during a CNN interview Wednesday night.
‘That people are not laid off. That people’s salaries are not cut. If these big companies, many of which did buybacks… they have to put their workers first if they’re going to get this help,’ he continued.
Democrats have been critical of the Trump administration’s approach, claiming ideas like a payroll tax cut or holiday focuses too much on economic bailout rather than helping individual Americans financially affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump said during his now-daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Tuesday that they are looking at directly sending cash to Americans in the wake of the pandemic.
The phase three package comes the morning after the Senate passed phase two, and the president signed it into law late Wednesday night.
The measures passed in the stimulus package includes safety new programs for individuals affected by coronavirus, including paid sick and family leave.
The legislation also provides free testing for COVID-19, which has infected more than 9,000 Americans.
The bill passed in the Senate 90-8 on Wednesday afternoon, around the same time that Trump stated that he was on ‘wartime footing’ in a bid to combat the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout.
Trump also said Wednesday he’d use the powers outlined in the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of medical equipment to treat Americans sickened by the virus.
‘There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have, it’s not enough,’ Trump said. ‘If we need to use it, we’ll be using it full speed ahead.’
Later on Twitter he clarified that he was signing it as a precautionary measure.
‘I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese Virus should we need to invoke it in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need, but we are all in this TOGETHER!’ Trump wrote early evening Wednesday.
Reports revealed this week that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Republican senators on the Hill Tuesday that unemployment could reach 20 per cent – causing markets to tank nearly 2,000 points on Wednesday
Several non-essential establishments across the country have shut down in light of the fast-spreading disease – leaving many, especially hourly workers, without a paycheck – as the U.S. death toll surpassed 150 and the confirmed cases nears 10,000.
The phase two bill addresses those who have to take off because of the virus.
Phase three, while Democrats hope will continue to relieve Americans suffering fallout from the outbreak, appears aimed also at helping bigger companies – like providing bailouts for the airline and hospitality industry.
Schumer is demanding the companies and firms saved by the stimulus package need to guarantee that they will use the economic assistance to ensure there are no layoffs.
Although the new Republican-proposed bill may have bipartisan support, it appears increasingly difficult that Pelosi will be able to get the House back in session anytime soon to vote on the phase three stimulus package.
It proves even more impossible after two congressmen announced Wednesday night that they tested positive for coronavirus – Democratic Representative Ben McAdams of Utah and Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.
The respiratory disease continues to rock the Capitol as House Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, his deputy Drew Ferguson of Georgia and fellow Republican Ann Wagner of Missouri said they are self-quarantining.
Scalise specifically said he is taking the step after an ‘extended meeting with [Diaz-Balart] late last week.’
The two new cases could mean several individuals on Capitol Hill were infected with coronavirus.
Trump signed the emergency coronavirus relief bill Wednesday evening hours after he downplayed reports that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told GOP senators unemployment in the U.S. might hit 20 per cent.
‘No, well I don’t agree with that. No, I don’t agree,’ he insisted during a White House press briefing on coronavirus Wednesday afternoon.
‘That’s an absolute, total, worst case scenario,’ he continued. ‘But no, we don’t look at that at all. We’re nowhere near it.’
In February, the unemployment rate was at 3.5 per cent and the highest in recorded U.S. history was during the Great Depression in the 1930s when rates reached nearly 25 per cent.
Markets tanked again on Wednesday when the Dow dropped nearly 2,000 points.