WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump urged Congress Tuesday to work with him on a "big, bold" stimulus package to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic and backed the idea of sending cash to Americans to help them pay their bills.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump's lead negotiator with Congress for the rescue package, said it could pour $1 trillion into the U.S. economy. As health officials advise Americans to practice "social distancing" to prevent contagion, there have been widespread flight cancellations, school closures and shutdowns of bars, restaurants and shopping malls. The economic forecasts have grown increasing dire, and Trump said Monday that the economy "may be" headed for a recession.
“We’re going big," Trump said. Trump had initially proposed a payroll tax holiday, but many lawmakers, including some in the GOP, expressed skepticism about that idea, saying it wouldn't help workers who lose their jobs because of the coronavirus shutdown or those who can't work because they lack child care. Trump also said the government should help the airlines weather the crisis.
"We don’t want airlines going out of business or people losing their jobs and not having money to live,” Trump said at a news conference.
Relief for airlines? 'We don't want airlines going out of business:' Trump says financial help on way as travel grinds to a halt
To help workers and families cope with the dispruptions, Mnuchin said one option under consideration is sending checks directly to Americans. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has proposed cutting $1,000 checks for all American adults.
“We're looking at sending checks to Americans immediately," Mnuchin said, although he did not say how big those checks might be.
Mnuchin said the measures under consideration are "stuff that needs to be done now."
The administration pitched the economic stimulus package while the Senate considers a House-passed bill aimed at providing paid sick leave, among other initiatives.