Congressional leaders are jolting ahead with another coronavirus rescue package after Trump indicated that Americans will need more aid during the stark pandemic and economic shutdown.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said another $1trn (£813bn) is needed, beyond the just-passed $2.2trn (£1.8trn) effort. She wants another round of direct payments to Americans and more money for companies to keep making payroll. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said in recent days that health care should top the list, signaling his intent to get to work on a new bill.
“We’re going to take good care of our people,” Trump said Monday at his daily White House briefing. “It was not their fault.”
It’s a rare sign of emerging consensus as Washington responds to the public health emergency and severe economic fallout that is ransacking communities nationwide, a crisis on par with a war effort or the Great Depression.
The contours of the package are still being debated and any votes in Congress remain a logistical conundrum. The House and Senate adjourned for most of the month, as part of strict stay-at-home orders from public health officials to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.
On an afternoon conference call with House Democrats, Pelosi told lawmakers at least another $1trn would be needed. The California Democrat has vowed to put the next package together in time for a House vote this month.
Former Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen joined the private call and warned Democrats the economic fallout will depend on the public health response to the pandemic, the person said. As businesses shutter to stop the virus’ spread, it has hurled the US economy toward a recession.
Yellen said it was impossible to know how deep and long the recession would be, and added that it would depend on the health response.
The former Fed chair also told them the nation’s unemployment rate is now at least 13 per cent and this week’s jobless report will show higher numbers than last week’s.
Yellen said she expects a 30 per cent contraction of GDP this year, but has seen models as high as 50 percent, according to a Democratic aide unauthorized to discuss the call and granted anonymity.
The earlier relief package, approved in late March, included one-time $1,200 (£975) direct payments to Americans, along with forgivable small business loans for companies to keep making payroll. It also included a boost of unemployment pay, money for hospitals and a $500bn (£407bn) fund for bigger corporations and industries.
Pelosi told Democrats said the $1,200 direct payments to Americans and the paycheck protection program for small businesses are not enough and more needs to be done, the person said.
She also said there needs to be more aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.
Trump has favoured direct cheques to Americans and gave a nod to another round in the next package.
“It is absolutely under serious consideration,” he said.