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Trump wants $850 billion stimulus package as virus hits economy

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  • The Trump administration is planning to ask Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the US economy.
  • The coronavirus pandemic increasingly shutters businesses and keeps consumers at home.
  • A senior administration official told Business Insider the proposal has developed rapidly in recent days.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration is planning to ask Congress for hundreds of billions of dollars to prop up the US economy as the coronavirus pandemic increasingly shutters businesses and keeps consumers at home. 

The Washington Post first reported that the stimulus package would be around $850 billion. A senior administration official told Business Insider the proposal has developed rapidly in recent days, which were marked by historic drops in financial markets and growing fears about a potential downturn.

“That is moving on a very fast track,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said of the request.

The proposal underscored a new sense of urgency in the White House, which had for weeks sought to downplay the human and economic threats of the respiratory illness COVID-19. Asked on Monday whether the US was heading toward a recession, President Donald Trump told a reporter: “Well, it may be.”

The proposal could include the payroll tax cut that Trump has repeatedly called for since the outbreak began to show signs of economic fallout. But it’s unclear what path such a policy would face on Capitol Hill, where bipartisan members of Congress have expressed skepticism about its effectiveness and costs. 

Read more: ‘Things can get worse’: An expert who cautioned about highly indebted companies before the coronavirus-led crash lays out a scenario where defaults soar and firms go bust

The Trump administration could also ask for roughly $50 billion to aid the airline industry as it reels from international travel restrictions and apprehensive consumers. Other industries and small- to medium-sized businesses may also receive targeted assistance. 

On Monday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that $400 billion in fiscal assistance was already underway. 

“We have an enormous fiscal plan,” he said. “It’s at least $800 billion and maybe more.” 

The Senate is expected to pass this week a package that expands paid sick leave and other benefits for workers, though it has hit some snags as Democrats continue to negotiate with the White House. In February, Trump signed into law legislation that injected about $8 billion into efforts to fight COVID-19.

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