(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration on Friday took another big step to ease the economic hardships on Americans amid the coronavirus crisis.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Twitter Friday morning also announced — under the president’s direction — the federal government was postponing Tax Day until July 15.
As California effectively shuts down, and the State Department warns Americans not to leave the country, President Donald Trump’s approval for his handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak is on the rise even after he downplayed the threat of COVID-19 on American life for weeks.
Trump has shifted his approach and tone this week to the coronavirus response, giving daily briefings on the crisis alongside the White House task force since Saturday and proposing new economic and public health measures to combat the virus.
Here are Friday’s most significant developments in Washington:
Dr. Anthony Fauci is expected to return to the White House coronavirus task force briefing scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
Trump has a phone call with small business owners on COVID-19 response in the afternoon
Negotiations underway for economic stimulus package which includes a proposal to send relief checks directly to Americans
At least two members of Congress accused of insider training amid COVID-19
State Department tells Americans “Do Not Travel” abroad
Here is how developments unfolded on Friday:
“Phase three” negotiations underway
Negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on that $1 trillion stimulus package began on Capitol Hill Friday — the measure includes a provision that would send money directly to American households. The current GOP plan says that Americans who made up to $75,000 last year would receive a $1200 check, with the check amount scaling down until capping off at $99,000 and with an additional $500 per child.
Democrats, however, are not yet on board. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say the current package tilts too much toward helping big businesses without focusing enough on people who have lost work. It would also scale back a paid sick leave measure Congress passed just this week.
“We are beginning to review Sen. McConnell’s proposal and on first reading, it is not at all pro-worker and instead puts corporations way ahead of workers,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement Thursday night, hours after the GOP plan was introduced on the Senate floor.
Mnuchin says Tax Day moving to July 15
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted Friday morning that the federal government is moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15 as the novel coronavirus rocks the U.S. economy.
“All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Mnuchin said.
Senators accused of insider training
At least two Republican senators — North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler — are also under fire this morning for alleged insider trading, after reports show they each sold off more than $1 million in stocks of businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 just before the market plunged but after they had received classified briefings on the virus.
In the new ABC News/Ipsos poll, 55% of Americans approve of the president’s management of the novel coronavirus crisis, compared to 43% who disapprove. Trump’s approval on this issue is up from last week, when the numbers were nearly reversed. Only 43% approved of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and 54% disapproved in last week’s poll.
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