Americans would receive two checks from the federal government in the next couple of months under the proposed coronavirus stimulus package that the Trump administration continued to push forward on Wednesday.
The first “economic impact payments” would start on April 6 if approved by Congress. The second check would be issued beginning on May 18.
White House officials this week have said they liked the idea of sending $1,000 checks to Americans.
“Payment amounts would be fixed and tiered based on income level and family size,” states a Treasury Department memo detailing $500 billion in checks to Americans. “Treasury is modeling specific options. Each round of payments would be identical in amount.”
Trump on Wednesday said the dollar amounts for the checks were to be determined.
“Everybody seems to want to go big,” Trump said during a press conference with the coronavirus task force.
The stimulus package is “moving along fast,” he said.
“We have to help everybody,” the president said. “It was nobody’s fault.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said unemployment could hit 20% because of the coronavirus crisis, but Trump said he didn’t agree.
“That’s an absolute total worst-case scenario,” Trump said. “We’re nowhere near it.”
Trump, who called himself a “wartime president” during the press conference, announced that he’s invoking the Defense Production Act to address the shortage of medical supplies.
This action will expand the production of coronavirus protective gear, he said. The acts gives the government more power to steer production by private companies.
“We have targets for certain pieces of equipment,” Trump said, noting the importance of masks. “We’ve ordered millions of them, but we need millions more. … We need respirators. We need ventilators.”
The Department of Defense will make available up to five million N95 masks and other equipment. The first million masks will be available immediately. They will also make available 2,000 ventilators.
“We are ordering thousands and thousands of ventilators,” Trump said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development will also suspend all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April as many people lose jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Health and Human Services will allow doctors and medical professionals to work across state lines.
“We are all in this together,” Trump said. “We’ll come through together. … We’re going to defeat the invisible enemy.”
Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that the U.S.-Canada border would be closed, except for essential personnel and trade.
“We don’t want people coming into contact because that’s the way we’re going to win this war,” Trump said.
The Senate also passed a second coronavirus response bill. The 90-8 vote, pending approval from Trump, would trigger a temporary employer mandate to provide sick leave to workers who get coronavirus. The measure would also make diagnostic tests for the virus free.
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Herald wire news services were used in this report.
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