Senate Democrats plan to ask President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency Wednesday to combat the effects of coronavirus and assist state and local governments.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said he, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., are preparing to send a letter to the Trump administration to formally ask for an emergency declaration. The goal is to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use more than $40 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund to assist state and local governments to fight the coronavirus, which has been named COVID-19.
The number of U.S. cases surpassed 1,000, with 31 deaths, federal health officials said. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told a congressional committee the virus has spread to at least 38 states.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Federal Emergency Management Agency told Fox News’ “Ingraham Angle” Tuesday that the Trump administration was focused on “targeted assistance plans” to stem the virus’ economic effects.
“Unpaid leave from sickness, that’s something on our list. Dealing with small businesses that may be faltering, that is on our list. Dealing with distressed sectors, you know we’re worried about airlines. We’re worried about energy. That is also on our list,” he said.
The House Democrats plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would lay out Democrats’ priorities for combating the effects of coronavirus, addressing sick leave, unemployment insurance food stamps, according to a Democratic aide. The House is planning to vote on the bill by the end of the week.
In a letter to Democratic colleagues Monday, Pelosi said she and Schumer wanted any proposal to include provisions for paid sick leave for workers, enhancing unemployment insurance and expanding food assistance programs such as SNAP.
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke “briefly by phone” Wednesday about proposals for the next coronavirus legislative response, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted.
On Monday, Trump said he would seek “very major” and “dramatic” measures to combat the virus’s economic effects, including a potential payroll tax cut and relief for hourly wage earners to ensure that they won’t have to miss a paycheck.
On Tuesday, Trump pitched Senate Republicans on his methods to boost the economy as the outbreak spreads.
“It will go away, just stay calm,” he told reporters after the meeting. “Everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful. But be calm. It’s really working out.”