“The House overwhelmingly passed a $484 billion spending package Thursday as the unemployment crisis deepened, a stark illustration of how policy makers continue trying to rescue an unraveling economy amid growing despair,” the Washington Post reports.
“The legislation, approved 388-5, would restart a small-business loan program that was swamped by demand during the coronavirus pandemic and allocate more money for health-care providers and virus testing. The vote was historic, as many lawmakers wore masks on the House floor, some even speaking through face coverings as they delivered impassioned remarks.”
“The legislation will now go to President Trump for enactment following Senate passage earlier this week.”
“The House voted Thursday to establish a new investigative committee to monitor President Trump’s implementation of nearly $3 trillion in coronavirus relief measures, a step they said would safeguard the massive sums flowing to businesses, hospitals and individual taxpayers,” Politico reports.
Said Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “It will be laser-focused on ensuring that taxpayer money goes to workers paychecks and benefits and it will ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by health experts — and that the money invested is not being exploited by profiteers and price gougers.”
“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is sensitive to concerns about rising federal debt but emphasized that low interest rates and the urgency of helping the economy during the coronavirus outbreak cut in the other direction,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Said Mnuchin: “This is a war, and we need to win this war and we need to spend what it takes to win the war. We are sensitive to the economic impacts of putting on debt and that’s something that the president is reviewing with us very carefully.”
“Members of the coronavirus task force had to convince President Trump to change his view on Georgia’s Republican governor’s decision to reopen businesses in his state later this week,” CNN reports.
Said Dr. Anthony Fauci: “I cannot defend this publicly.”
“They then asked Dr. Deborah Birx, the panel’s coordinator, to try to convince Trump to oppose Kemp’s move. She had a private meeting with the president just prior to the news conference and successfully convinced him to denounce Kemp’s decision.”
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Tuesday night and expressed support and praise for the Republican’s move to reopen businesses in his state starting Friday, CNN reports. Yesterday, Trump said the exact opposite at his daily briefing — claiming that he told Kemp he disagreed “strongly” with the decision.
“Another 4.4 million workers filed for jobless benefits last week, the U.S. government reported Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to ravage the nation’s economy,” the New York Times reports. “Over five weeks, more than 26 million people have now joined the ranks of the unemployed.”
CNBC: “It took only five weeks for the U.S. economy to wipe out all the job gains it added over the last 11 years.”
“Battleground states that handed Donald Trump the presidency four years ago are seeing higher-than-average layoffs amid an economic downturn wreaking havoc across the country — a dynamic that could hold major implications for November’s election,” Politico reports.
“By the time New York City confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on March 1, thousands of infections were already silently spreading through the city, a hidden explosion of a disease that many still viewed as a remote threat as the city awaited the first signs of spring,” the New York Timesreports.
“Hidden outbreaks were also spreading almost completely undetected in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, long before testing showed that each city had a major problem.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her older brother, Don Reed Herring, has died from coronavirus.
Said Warren: “I’m grateful to the nurses and frontline staff who took care of him, but it’s hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say ‘I love you’ one more time—and no funeral for those of us who loved him to hold each other close. I’ll miss you dearly my brother.”
A new Brookings analysis finds that coronavirus is now spreading into more Republican-leaning areas of the country. Despite initially being concentrated in urban areas, the spread of the virus has slowly extended into new parts of the Midwest, West and the South, into outer suburbs and small metropolitan areas.
Greg Sargent: “If this continues, it could badly complicate the debate over social distancing for Trump.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told Politico that he has pulled no punches in advocating for states’ interests in in his dealings with President Trump.
But Hogan, the chairman of the National Governors Association, also acknowledged he has been careful not to “poke the bear” in the Oval Office amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore spoke to the New York Times about what it would take to reopen the economy during a pandemic.
Said Moore: “We can use really good public safety measures, social distancing the work force, disinfectants everywhere, masks. I was thinking this morning, and this is just kind of a thought experiment because I was thinking about this — why don’t we just put everybody in a space outfit or something like that? No. Seriously.”
He added: “You have to make 200 million of these, but it wouldn’t have cost $3 trillion to do that. And you can have for months people just walking around in these kind of — I mean, I was looking online, and there are all these kinds of suits that they’re building now that you’re not exposed and you’re breath — kind of ventilator.”
Financial Times: “Analysts said the gains were due in part to U.S. president Trump ordering American warships to attack any Iranian vessels that posed a threat. Mr Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday that he had ‘instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.’”
New York Times: “How many deaths are acceptable to reopen the country before the coronavirus is completely eradicated? ‘One is too many,’ President Trump insists, a politically safe formulation that any leader would instinctively articulate.”
“But that is not the reality of Mr. Trump’s reopen-soon approach. Nor for that matter will it be the bottom line for even those governors who want to go slower. Until there is a vaccine or a cure for the coronavirus, the macabre truth is that any plan to begin restoring public life invariably means trading away some lives. The question is how far will leaders go to keep it to a minimum.”
Wall Street Journal: “The coronavirus pandemic is expected to weigh on the financial condition of Social Security, which is currently projected to pay benefits that exceed its income in 2021 for the first time in nearly 40 years.”
Michael Caputo, the new spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, in a series of now-deleted tweets made racist and derogatory comments about Chinese people, said Democrats wanted the coronavirus to kill millions of people and accused the media of intentionally creating panic around the pandemic to hurt President Trump, CNN reports. Caputo tried to delete the tweets but they were recovered.
President Trump has asked the UK Government to bail out his golf courses in Scotland as they struggle to cope with the economic chaos of the coronavirus crisis, The National reports. In the United States, the president’s company is legally barred from seeking any government aid.
Gordon Sondland, the former EU ambassador and high dollar donor who played a starring role in the Trump impeachment proceedings, was a beneficiary of the small-business relief package, Bloomberg reports.
Attorneys for Dr. Rick Bright, who says he was removed from his post for pushing back against President Trump’s promotion of a malaria drug to fight the coronavirus, told Politico that he’ll be filing a whistleblower complaint with the HHS inspector general.