President Donald Trump has called for Congress to pass a $2 trillion spending plan to revamp America’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.
Trump took to Twitter on March 31 calling for lawmakers to take advantage of the near-zero-interest-rate environment to adopt a “very big and bold” package “focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our country.”
The president said the funds should be included in the next bill lawmakers are currently drafting to respond to the coronavirus crisis, which they refer to as “Phase 4.”
The call revives Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to fix the country in places where infrastructure is crumbling.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has expressed caution about moving forward with a fourth stimulus package.
“I think we need to wait a few days here, a few weeks, and see how things are working out,” McConnell said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” according to The Hill.
“Let’s see how things are going and respond accordingly,” he said. “I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass.”
Trump’s call for more infrastructure spending follows the massive $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Congress passed and Trump signed last week. That stimulus bill includes checks to households as well as loans and grants to small businesses.
Also, the Fed has promised to buy as many Treasurys as it takes to get lending markets working smoothly after trading got snarled in markets that help companies borrow short-term cash to make payroll, home buyers get mortgages, and local governments to build infrastructure.
Those actions have helped markets become less dysfunctional, investors say, and led stocks to their recent rally. The S&P 500 has increased more than 17 percent since March 23.
“We’re kind of on this little milestone journey with markets,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co., in remarks to The Associated Press. “First, we get the economic plan in place, then we have to start to see some of the containment actions pay off. At some point, it’s going to be how do we get back to work.”
Among the next economic milestones is the March 27 jobs report, which is expected to show a sharp drop in payrolls.
Companies will also report their earnings results for the first quarter in upcoming weeks, and analysts anticipate the steepest drop in profits since the start of 2016, according to FactSet. The numbers may get worse in the following quarter.
Goldman Sachs economists said March 31 that they expect the U.S. economy to shrink 34 percent in the second quarter, but they expect growth to rebound in the third quarter.
The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, estimated that unemployment in the second quarter of this year would range between around 10 percent and 42 percent, with a likely jobless rate of around 32 percent.
The number of known COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and the worldwide tally has topped 820,000 according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than 175,000 cases of the disease, which is caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause pneumonia and require hospitalization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.