U.S. President Donald Trump briefed Senate Republicans Tuesday on his proposed economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It included a payroll tax cut, an idea that has drawn opposition from some Republicans and Democrats.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who sat in on the president’s meeting with Senate Republican lawmakers, declined to specify the dollar amount for the package, but did say that Trump prefers it include a payroll tax “holiday” through the end of this year.
The president has also mentioned loans for small businesses and said he wants help for hourly wage workers so that they’re “not going to miss a paycheck” and “don’t get penalized for something that’s not their fault.”
The final stimulus package will originate in the House, and the president tapped Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mnuchin later called their meeting productive and said they’d “work together on a bipartisan basis to figure out how we can get things done quickly.”
Pelosi said her team will have its package ready in the next day or so.
Later Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence, at the White House’s coronavirus task force’s evening briefing, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will publish within the next 24 hours recommendations for hard-hit states such as California, Florida, New York and Washington, to help them control the spread of COVID-19.
The Trump’s administration’s former Homeland Security adviser, Thomas Bossert, has called for sweeping action to be taken immediately, such as closing schools even in communities where there is not widespread infection.
“Everything is on the table,” responded Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, when asked about Bossert’s statement.
Fauci, added however, that it is not appropriate to say all schools should be closed “in the entire country tonight.”
Also, U.S. health insurance companies will cover costs for coronavirus testing, Pence said at a White House meeting with company executives.
"All of the insurance companies here today or before today have agreed to waive all co-pays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans," the vice president said.
Pence said the companies will also pay the costs to provide telemedicine care to patients so that they do not have to leave home.