(BOSTON) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted President Donald Trump’s handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and said she believes the financial market disruption on Monday is directly related to a “lack of confidence” in the White House.
“Well it is very sad, but I believe, what we know about the Dow is that they want certainty, they want to have confidence that there is a plan,” Pelosi told reporters during a news conference following an appearance at the Women Who Empower Summit at Northeastern University Monday morning in Boston.
U.S. financial markets plunged as trading began on Monday — enough to trigger a temporary halt to trading — amid fears over the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty over falling oil prices.
Stock trading resumed following a 15-minute halt on Monday after the S&P 500 plummeted more than 7% in the first minutes of trading. The halt was caused by an automatic circuit breaker safety mechanism that kicked in to prevent a free fall amid the sell-off.
“I think that what is happening there is a reflection of lack of confidence, and so we would hope that what is coming out of the White House will be more consistent with what the health advisers are putting forth,” Pelosi said.
“We would hope that rather than name-calling, (Trump) would be again joining with his health care professionals who are advising him and the rest of us in a well-coordinated government agenda,” she said.
Pelosi told reporters late Monday that she is rallying her caucus behind a proposal to send more relief to families facing the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the country. The proposal includes tax relief and paid family leave measures that Democratic leaders have recommended. Pelosi said the House will work to bring those bills to the floor “quickly.”
“These are additional. This is about the families. We’re about putting families first. If your children’s school is closed, who’s going to take care of them at home? If kids are dependent on food at school, how are they going to have food security?” she said.
This “addresses some of those things, paid family leave — for the purpose of the coronavirus, unemployment insurance in case your company just folds, although we had in our bill SBA loans for helping to sustain a workforce,” Pelosi added. “So it’s about how we protect the families and how we protect the workers, the health care providers and the rest in the atmospheres in which they’re working.”
The president on Friday signed an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill, approved by Congress, to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Pelosi also commented on the Republican members of Congress who may have been exposed to the coronavirus during a conservative conference held in Maryland last week and suggested there may be up to four members of Congress who were exposed.
“The House physician has put out a statement today about some members who were exposed at a conference and some are self — maybe three members, I think one or two are, maybe four — two of them are self-quarantining and I don’t know what the other two are doing yet,” Pelosi said.
“But again, we always have to measure the impact of what we are doing is and we don’t want to instill fear,” she said. “We want to take precautions, we want prevention but we don’t want panic. And again we will make judgement as we go along about the risk that is involved.”
Pelosi said the U.S. Capitol tours that are available to the public will remain open “for now.”
As for the possibility of Congress recessing due to fears of the virus spreading, Pelosi said she expects Congress will remain in session this week and hopes to “get some things passed in the House” before next week’s scheduled recess.
The speaker said the fact that Congress is not in session next week “may be a good thing in terms of what is going on.”
Pelosi also sought to connect Trump’s policies and his “lack of respect” for the country and the Constitution to his leadership in the wake of the virus.
“This is a very dangerous situation for our country when it comes to public health,” Pelosi said.
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