U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday called on Congress to pass a Senate economic rescue bill, saying the legislative branch has no choice but to act in the face of massive economic disruptions caused by widespread lock downs aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19.
Passage of the massive aid bill, variously estimated at $1 to 1.8 trillion, has been stalled for two days over objections to a $500 billion fund to be overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
After talks stalled on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said her chamber would begin work on its own recovery bill.
A second attempt by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Ky., to move the Senate bill forward Monday afternoon failed, sending stocks sharply lower at the close.
Trump told reporters at a White House briefing that no decision has been made yet on whether to extend federal guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus after they expire at the end of the month.
He said America would “open for business” sooner than many have predicted and that the “cure shouldn’t be worse than the problem.”
U.S. economic forecasts have plummeted, amid widespread lock downs aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Medical experts have argued that absent any proven treatment or vaccine, the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus is through social distancing – compelling people to work at home if possible, closing restaurants, bars, theaters and any other places where people congregate.
Attorney General William Barr said the Dept. of Justice has begun pursuing cases of hoarding of medical supplies, amid widespread shortages of masks and protective gear needed by healthcare providers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the coronavirus task force headed by Vice-President Mike Pence, was not present at the press briefing Monday.