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White House, Senate reach late-night deal on $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package
White House and Senate leaders reached a historic deal shortly after midnight Wednesday on a massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief package for workers and businesses, although support in the House of Representatives remained uncertain as one member openly criticized the plan.
The bipartisan breakthrough in the Senate capped days of heated negotiations that had nearly been derailed by last-minute demands from House Democrats.
“Ladies and gentleman, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland announced as he left the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., near midnight. "We have a deal."
"Much of the work on bill text has been completed and I’m hopeful over the next few hours we’ll finish what's left and we will circulate it early in the morning," Ueland told reporters.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill amounts to “unemployment compensation on steroids," and that every American who is laid off will have their missed salary remunerated. That provision will enable companies to stay afloat and immediately bring back those employees when things are safe, Schumer said.
Still, trouble may be on the horizon for the bill. Michigan independent Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party, signaled that he might essentially delay consideration of the bill in the House. The lower chamber may seek to pass the legislation via unanimous consent because many members are not in Washington -- but a single member can ruin that plan. Click here for more on our top story.
Other related developments:
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- Trump worries US will see 'suicides by the thousands' if coronavirus devastates economy
- Ilhan Omar says coronavirus outbreak calls for 'radical' takeover of private hospitals
Trump 'flexible' with coronavirus timeline, Fauci says
Coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci said on "The Ingraham Angle" on Tuesday that President Trump's Easter timeline to reboot the economy was "aspirational," adding that the president and his team were on the same page and that everyone understands a timeline for the coronavirus outbreak needs to be "flexible."
"The president clearly listens. I mean, he has this aspirational goal of hoping that we might be able to do it by a certain date. We talked to him about that. We say we need to be flexible. He realizes that and he accepts that," Fauci told host Laura Ingraham. "I mean, he doesn't want to give up his aspirational goal, but he's flexible enough to say, 'OK, let's look at it on a day by day basis,' we say, and we will give him data to inform that decision."
Fauci stressed that the president has an "open mind." Earlier Tuesday during both Fox News virtual town hall and a coronavirus press briefing, Trump emphasized his desire for the U.S. to reopen for business by Easter, April 12. Click here for more.
Other related developments:
- Dems fume as Trump says country may be reopened by Easter
- 60 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of coronavirus: Gallup poll
- Surgeon general says US has 'turned the corner' on coronavirus testing
State Department voices support for Chinese ambassador who says it's 'crazy' to blame coronavirus on US military
The State Department backed up China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai for calling the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s assertion that the U.S. Army was responsible for the virus’ outbreak in Wuhan a “crazy thing.”
“We welcome Ambassador Cui's comments calling the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement a 'crazy thing' that blamed the U.S. Army for the #coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan,” tweeted State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Saving lives is more important than saving face.”
In an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation" in February, Cui said, "There are people who are saying that these virus are coming from some military lab, not of China, maybe in the United States. How -- how can we believe all these crazy things?” He has stood by his comments ever since, most recently in an interview with Axios that aired Sunday on HBO. Click here for more.
Other coronavirus developments:
- Hawley slams China for costing world 'thousands of lives and billions of dollars'
- Congressional resolution seeks international probe of China's coronavirus handling
- Coronavirus: Everything you need to know
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Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles closing churches because of virus.
Idris Elba slams claims that stars are paid to say they have coronavirus.
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SOME PARTING WORDS
Greg Gutfeld says the debate over when to lift coronavirus restrictions in the U.S. is an example of "the prison of two ideas" and that there needs to be a balance between the advice of medical and economic experts.
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Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! Take care of yourself and others-- we will get through this coronavirus outbreak together. We'll see you in your inbox first thing Thursday morning.