Grassley on congressional response to coronavirus: 'Everything is on the table'

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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are grappling with how to handle the economic impact of the coronavirus and stimulate the economy with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley saying Monday that “everything is on the table.”

A spokesperson for the Iowa Republican, Michael Zona, added that the senator “is exploring the possibility of targeted tax relief measures that could provide a timely and effective response to the coronavirus.”

Zona added: “Several options within the committee’s jurisdiction are being considered as we learn more about the effects on specific industries and the overall economy.”

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While Republicans are pushing a tax relief measure to boost a slagging economy as it deals with fears surrounding the coronavirus, Democrats indicated they preferred other responses, like passing legislation requiring employers to give their workers paid sick leave — a longtime policy priority of Democrats — and additional help for those with lower incomes.

“The best way to ensure economic security for the American people right now is to deal with the coronavirus itself, competent and full on,” said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “Something we haven’t yet seen. Getting a handle on the crisis and containing the spread of the virus is by far the best way to address any effects on the economy.”

As lawmakers try to figure a way to boost the economy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 7.8 percent Monday, its steepest drop since the financial crisis of 2008.

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The drop on Wall Street was so sharp that it triggered the first automatic halt in trading in more than two decades. European markets likewise registered their heaviest losses since the darkest days of the 2008 meltdown and are now in a bear market.

Together, the damage reflecting mounting alarm over the coronavirus epidemic that has closed factories, schools and stores and led to travel bans and unprecedented quarantines.

“The market has had a crisis of confidence,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.