With turbulence on Wall Street and the prospect of people being forced home from work, leaders in the nation’s capital are left debating how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
FULL COVERAGE: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Last week, lawmakers approved an $8 billion aid package to help combat the mounting health crisis. Now they are looking to potential next steps, considering measures to help shore up the economy and people’s wallets.
On Monday, President Donald Trump floated plans for a stimulus package, including a potential payroll tax break. He said they would also look to help hourly wage earners.
On the Hill, Democrats - and some Republicans - are expressing little interest in the payroll tax cut.
Democrats are assembling their own plan, focusing on making sure workers get paid sick leave and have access to unemployment insurance.
The president visited Capitol Hill Tuesday, speaking with GOP lawmakers behind closed doors. Meanwhile, Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Whether any sort of deal could be ironed out remains to be seen.
Congress is scheduled to be out of town next week - a recess planned before the coronavirus outbreak.
The White House Handling of the Outbreak
Mr. Trump’s handling of the outbreak so far has faced scrutiny, with accusations the president is downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak.
In an interview, Rep. Alma Adams, D-12th District, slammed the White House initial response.
“I think the president should have and could have moved a lot more swiftly on this issue. He should have taken it more seriously,” she said. “I think he just tried to shrug it off and did not want to really admit that we have a crisis.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Trump defended his administration’s handling of the virus Tuesday.
“We’re prepared and we’re doing a great job with it. It will go away. Just stay calm, it’ll go away,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Everybody has to be vigilant and has to be careful, but be calm.”
Rep. Mark Meadows is Self-Quarantining
Concerns over the coronavirus hit close to home in North Carolina this week.
Rep. Mark Meadows is self-quarantining through Wednesday after learning he may have come in contact with a CPAC attendee who tested positive for the virus, his office announced Monday.
Meadows underwent testing, which came back negative.
Last week, Mr. Trump named Meadows as his new chief of staff.