Virus Plan to Boost Economy by About $2 Trillion, Kudlow Says
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The coronavirus rescue package being negotiated in Congress is intended to boost the U.S. economy by about $2 trillion, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said as he arrived at the Capitol Saturday for a new day of talks.
“The package is coming in at about 10% of GDP. It’s very large,” Kudlow told reporters. He said later the spending bill itself is expected to total $1.3 trillion to $1.4 trillion, plus additional loans that would eventually be paid back.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also arrived at the Capitol for negotiations Saturday, and Senate Democrats have been pushing to expand the GOP’s economic rescue plan.
The package is designed to address a pandemic than continues to rapidly unfold. The number of deaths worldwide has surpassed 11,700 and the number of cases is nearing 280,000, according to the latest data from a Bloomberg analysis that uses reports from the World Health Organization and other sources.
The $1.4 trillion size of the third-stage package would be dramatically larger than the 2008 economic rescue plan that was designed to address the banking-based financial crisis. The $700 billion package signed into law in October of that year would be valued at $841 billion in today’s dollars.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley told reporters Saturday that there are four or five sticking points that Republicans are trying to work out with Democrats. Grassley of Iowa said Democrats are supposed to respond to proposals shortly after noon.
Senate Republicans made an offer on boosting unemployment insurance that Democrats are now reviewing, White House liaison Eric Ueland said.
“This is going to be the largest, when it’s concluded, relief package in history,” Senate Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey said. “So yes, speed is necessary. But getting this done right so that it actually has the effect that we want is equally as important.”
Menendez said the Republicans’ proposal on unemployment insurance is a “good faith offer” but “we need to move it a little more.”
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the figure cited by Kudlow on Saturday included a supplemental spending proposal that Democrats support adding to the plan, which would be the third phase of legislation to cope with the pandemic. The White House supplemental request was for $45.8 billion, though House Democrats have said it will need to be bigger.
GOP Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said he’s encouraged by the progress and hopes to have something together by a self-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. Saturday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had earlier said he wanted to reach an agreement Friday night to set up a Senate vote on Monday.
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