President Donald Trump on Monday said he will be taking “major” steps to gird the economy against the impact of the spreading coronavirus outbreak and will discuss a payroll tax cut with congressional Republicans on Tuesday, Reuters informs.
“We’ll be discussing a possible payroll tax cut or relief, substantial relief, very substantial relief, that’s a big number,” Trump told reporters.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top two Democrats in Congress, told reporters that any payroll tax cut should be limited to those affected by the virus.
They also said they are crafting new legislation, on the heels of $8.3 billion coronavirus funding enacted last week, that might be ready to be introduced this week.
Among proposals that could be included are ensuring water supplies are maintained for people even if they cannot pay their bills as a result of the crisis, expanded unemployment insurance, medical leave and providing food for children who rely on school nutrition programs if schools are shut.
Vice President Mike Pence said the administration was consulting Congress on providing paid sick leave to workers, an idea that Democrats already have been trying to advance.
The stepped-up response to the coronavirus came as the number of confirmed cases in the United States hit 605, according to Johns Hopkins University. Three additional deaths in Washington state, according to officials, brought the total nationwide to 25.
Earlier Monday, Johns Hopkins said that worldwide, there are 113,584 cases, with 3,996 deaths, the majority in China.
The Trump administration moves came as stock markets plunged and top health officials urged some people to avoid cruise ships, air travel and big public gatherings.