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► Two down, one to go?
The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:
With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…
…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.
The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.
We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”
BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…
…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.
For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.
► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:
11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn
11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus
11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite
► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).
The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.
► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.
Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.
The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.
If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…