As Congress and the Trump administration race to hammer out an agreement on a massive stimulus package to boost the economy in the wake of economic downturn from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Democrats have been given a seat at the negotiating table to lay out their desired changes.
Among them is the push for President Donald Trump to declare a Marshall Plan for medical facilities across the country to provide equipment and aid; stipulations for any large corporations who receive loans from the government; cancel all student loan debt—not suspend, as Trump did on Friday; and expand unemployment insurance and paid sick and family leave.
“There is nothing in [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s] bill to help hospitals. Now, we’re told we may do it in a supplemental later. Later is no good,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor. “We need a Marshall Plan for hospitals right now, and we need local governments that are also on the front lines to get dollars in their pockets. Many of them will go broke.”
The more than $1 trillion stimulus has been outlined in 247 pages by Senate Republicans, who consulted with White House officials in recent days. Under that plan, which will be changed as talks play out on Friday, many Americans would receive a $1,200 tax rebate check.
Now, the measure must be negotiated among White House officials and congressional leaders from both parties.
McConnell wants to have an agreement among the chamber’s Democrats and Republicans by late Friday so staff over the weekend can draft the text and be ready for a final vote on Monday. Along the way, the Trump administration will also weigh in.
“Laid-off workers cannot wait. Struggling Main Street businesses cannot wait. Our hospitals and health centers cannot wait,” the Kentucky Republican said on the floor. “I hope these member-level discussions will be able to produce agreements in principle on all four components by the end of the day today. In fact, they must reach [an] agreement by the end of the day today.”
In addition to declaring a Marshall Plan for medical facilities, Schumer urged Trump in a phone call Friday to invoke the wartime Defense Production Act to force private companies to produce ventilators and other medical equipment. The president then delivered the order to staff members.
“POTUS told Schumer he would, and then POTUS yelled to someone in his office to do it now,” Schumer’s office said.
In the stimulus, Schumer also wants to: prohibit companies that receive federal money from buying back their own stock, laying off workers, increasing executive pay and cutting worker salaries; expand unemployment insurance; expand paid sick and family leave—beyond what a separate stimulus package did earlier this week; and cancel—not suspend—all student loan debt for the duration of the ongoing public health crisis.
According to Schumer’s spokesperson, Trump was supportive of prohibiting stock buybacks and would look into expanding unemployment insurance, paid sick and family leave, and canceling student loan debt.
This is a developing story and will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.