Close to a deal, negotiators from Congress and the White House were set to resume talks Sunday, racing to push a $1.4 trillion economic rescue package across the finish line in the face of dire warnings about hospitals across the nation not having the supplies needed to handle an expected surge of coronavirus patients.
With a population on edge, societal norms rewritten and financial markets teetering, all sides indicated they hoped the agreement would provide some relief against the pandemic’s twin health and economic crises, now believed likely to stretch for several months.
In the hours before the closed-door talks were to convene in an otherwise empty Capitol, President Donald Trump’s lead negotiator said the plan was meant to prop up the nation’s weakened economy for the next 10 to 12 weeks.
“I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today. It will get done,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now,” Mnuchin said. “If for any reason, 10 weeks from now with this virus we haven’t won this, we’ll go back to Congress again.”
But while some help appeared to be soon on the way, alarms were being sounded from coast to coast about the wave of coronavirus cases about to crash onto the nation’s health system. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had dire, urgent news from the pandemic’s U.S. epicenter: It’s bad and only getting worse.
“April and May are going to be a lot worse,” de Blasio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” begging for Washington to help procure ventilators and other medical supplies. De Blasio accused the president of “not lifting a finger” to help his hometown.
“If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise,” he said.
Trump has defiantly pushed back against criticism he was slow to respond to the crisis, though he continues to send mixed messages as to what, exactly, the federal government is doing. In recent days, he invoked the Defense Protection Act, a rarely used, decades-old measure that allows the president to marshal the private sector, but officials said Sunday that it has not actually been used to compel the private sector to manufacture supplies like masks and ventilators.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said on ABC’s “This Week” that masks are being shipped from the national stockpile but he could not provide details on a concrete timeline. Gaynor could not say, despite being pressed repeatedly, how many masks would be shipped and when they would arrive.
“I mean, there’s hundreds of thousands of — millions of things that we’re shipping from the stockpile. I mean, I can’t give you the details about what every single state of what every single city’s doing,” Gaynor said. “We are working to source from all different kinds of manufacturing. Will we ever have enough? I’m not sure.” READ MORE @ Newsmax