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President Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual townhall that he wants the country’s economy re-opened by Easter amid questions over how long people should stay home and businesses be closed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking from the Rose Garden alongside others on his coronavirus taskforce, Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” The holiday this year lands on April 12.
Trump also reiterated his argument that he doesn’t want “to turn the country off” and continue to see an continued economic downfall from the pandemic.
“We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off,” Trump said during the interview.
Trump added: “We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call up the automobile companies and say stop making cars. We have to get back to work.”
Trump also called on the Senate to pass a massive stimulus bill that is currently being debated between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The president blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for demanding a number of additional stipulations to the bill for the delay in its passage in the Senate.
“I cancelled the deal last night because Nancy Pelosi put in a lot of things that had nothing to do with the workers,” Trump said. “They start throwing Green New Deal stuff in, and the board rooms what they will look like…They have things that are just terrible, windmills everywhere.”
Arguably the most controversial aspect of the proposal, the initial GOP plan called for $208 billion in loans to larger businesses like airlines, which would have to be repaid, and a subsequent; a version released over the weekend called for $500 billion.
Democrats have complained that the Republican-led draft of the aid package did not go far enough to provide health care and unemployment aid for Americans, and failed to put restraints on a proposed $500 billion “slush fund” for corporations, saying the ban on corporate stock buy-backs are weak and the limits on executive pay would last only two years.
Schumer said Democrats also want included in the bill new collective bargaining powers for unions, higher fuel emissions standards for airlines, and expanded wind and solar tax credits.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., McConnell accused Democrats of trying to extract concessions from airlines over their “carbon footprint,” with the economy hanging in the balance.
“They ought to be embarrassed,” he said on Monday. “This is no time for this nonsense.”
The nearly $2 trillion stimulus package would include direct financial help to Americans in the form of stimulus checks sent out to many Americans. The proposal would include a one-time payment of $1,200 per adult, $2,400 per couple in the U.S. and up to $3,000 for a family of four.
An estimated $350 billion would be provided for small businesses to keep making payroll. Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing. The program would provide 8 weeks of assistance through federally guaranteed loans qualifying employers who maintain payroll; if they do, other costs like mortgage interest, rent, and utilities would be forgiven.
The bill also includes an additional $242 billion in additional emergency appropriations to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs. That includes money for food stamps, child nutrition, hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and public health and transportation agencies. The figure has gone significantly higher during talks over the weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.