White House to Propose Substantial Relief for Workers and Businesses to Deal With Coronavirus

March 9, 2020 Updated: March 9, 2020

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said on Monday that the White House would ask Congress to pass financial measures for workers and businesses to deal with the significant economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump said there would be meetings with members of the House and Senate on Tuesday to discuss “a possible payroll tax cut,” calling it “a very substantial relief” for workers.

“We’re also going to be talking about hourly wage earners getting help,” so they don’t worry about missing a paycheck, he added.

The U.S. stock market plummeted on Monday as fears of the coronavirus and a steep decline in oil prices shook trader confidence around the world, triggering the first automatic trading halt in more than 20 years. U.S. stocks neared the 20-percent drop, approaching the so-called bear market territory.

Trump said that the economic measures would also provide liquidity to large and small companies that are hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s not their fault. It’s not our country’s fault,” Trump said. “Also, we’re going to be seeing the Small Business Administration and creating loans for small businesses.”

Administration officials are working with the airline industry, cruise ship industry, and hotels that are affected by the virus the most, he added.

The details of the economic package will be announced tomorrow at a press conference following meetings with lawmakers, Trump said.

“This was something that we were thrown into, and we’re going to handle it and we have been handling it very well.”

Asked whether the United States is heading toward a recession, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sounded confident that the U.S. economy is resilient enough to weather a significant crisis from the outbreak.

“There are parts of the economy that are going to be impacted, especially workers that need to be at home, hard-working people who are at home under quarantine or taking care of their family. We’ll be working on a program to address that,” he said. “We will also be working with small businesses who need liquidity through SBA programs.”

“This is not like the financial crisis, where we don’t know the end in sight. This is about providing proper tools and liquidity to get through the next few months,” said Mnuchin.

Congress passed an $8.3 billion aid package last week to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The bill authorizes $7.76 billion funds for vaccine development and medical supplies, grants for health agencies and organizations, and loans for impacted small businesses. The bill also provides $500 million in waivers for Medicaid telehealth restrictions. The president signed the bill into law on March 6.

Trump is expected to meet with CEOs of top U.S. banks at the White House on Wednesday to discuss responses to the outbreak.

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