The Trump administration is reportedly seeking congressional approval of a massive economic stimulus package to help the United States battle the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Washington Post, which cited four unnamed officials familiar with the matter, the roughly $850 billion package would inject the economy with cash through a payroll tax cut or another mechanism. About $50 billion will go directly to the airline industry, which has suffered a dramatic decline in passengers as state and local governments have advised travelers to pause or cancel their travel plans to prevent the continued spread of the deadly illness.
The package marks the third proposed coronavirus-related emergency fund as lawmakers attempt to halt the economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak, which has now infected nearly 4,500 Americans and killed 87. Congress has already passed an $8.3 billion sweeping spending bill toward prevention efforts and medical research, and a separate plan to expand unemployment and sick leave benefits is en route to the Senate.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is expected to discuss the details of the $850 billion package with Senate Republicans today at the Capitol. Speaking with senators last night, he said he would like to see the deal passed in the Senate by the end of the week.
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Economic concerns stemming from the coronavirus has led the Federal Reserve over the weekend to take the drastic measure of slashing interest rates to nearly zero. The central bank set its benchmark to 0% to 0.25% — the second cut over the past two weeks. On March 3, the rate was lowered by half a percentage point to 1% to 1.25%, marking the first cut of its kind since the 2008 financial crisis.
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