President Donald Trump last night said he would take emergency action to help small businesses and workers weather the economic fallout from coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to restricting travel to and from Europe, Trump said he has instructed the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide low-interest economic loans in affected states and territories, and asked Congress to provide an additional $50 billion for the program.
He also pledged emergency action to ensure that working Americans impacted by the virus can stay home without fear of financial hardship. “I will soon be taking emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief,” the president said. “This will be targeted for workers who are ill, quarantined, or caring for others due to coronavirus.”
The president said he will instruct the Treasury Department to defer tax payments, without interest or penalties, for certain individuals and businesses negatively impacted to provide more than $200 billion of additional liquidity. This would require pushing back the tax return filing deadline beyond April 15.
Trump also urged Congress to provide immediate payroll tax relief.
As Trump was preparing for his national address, the House of Representatives introduced a coronavirus response bill. According to a statement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the measure would provide:
- free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs it;
- paid emergency leave: 14 days of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave;
- enhanced unemployment insurance that will extend protections to furloughed workers;
- strengthened food security initiatives, including SNAP, student meals, seniors’ nutrition and food banks;
- clear protections for frontline workers; and
- increased federal funds for Medicaid to cover increased costs to states.
“We cannot fight coronavirus effectively unless everyone in our country who needs to be tested knows they can get their test free of charge,” Pelosi said.
According to The Hill, a vote on the bill is expected today.