Your Daily Dose of Trump & His Administration News
- More than a million people in the United States have tested positive for the coronavirus, a sobering milestone that experts say represents only the beginning of a months-long battle to end the pandemic. The United States has now registered about a third of all worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- President Trump on Tuesday suggested “the worst days” of the coronavirus pandemic are over as he welcomed a group of small-business owners to the White House who have benefited from an emergency loan program he signed into law last month.
Trump used his speech to express optimism about the country’s path to economic recovery amid the pandemic, which has forced businesses to close and caused millions of layoffs across the country.
- Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said he hoped anyone who needed a coronavirus test should be able to get one by the end of May or early June.
“Hopefully we should see that as we get toward the end of May, the beginning of June,” Fauci said when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper, “When will everybody who needs to get a test be able to get one?”
- Vice President Pence visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where he stuck out for his decision not to wear a face covering, flouting the medical facility’s policy in the process. Footage of Pence standing alongside clinic staff and a patient donating blood quickly made the rounds on social media as the vice president was the lone individual in the frame not sporting a mask.
- Vice President Pence defended his decision not to wear a face covering during a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, despite the facility’s policy requiring all visitors to have one.
“Since I don’t have the coronavirus, I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to be here, to be able to speak to these researchers, these incredible health care personnel, and look them in the eye and say thank you,” Pence explained.
- In the month since President Trump signed a record $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the IRS has been scrambling to implement key aspects of the measure at a time when most Americans are desperate for government aid.
The IRS has won praise from experts for its ability to start implementing the law quickly, but its work hasn’t been perfect. The agency has been a source of frustration for tens of millions of Americans who are still awaiting their direct payments from the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27.
- The second round of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) emergency coronavirus lending program is struggling to bounce back from a disastrous start.
A crush of applications locked out thousands of furious lenders and desperate business owners on Monday, requiring many applicants to give it another go on Tuesday after waiting weeks for the new pool of money.
- The SBA program is on track to run out of funds by next week.
The Payment Protection Program, which offers businesses forgivable loans if they devote most of the cash to keeping workers on payroll, approved over $52 billion in funds by 1 p.m. on Tuesday, just over a day after it reopened with newly appropriated funds from Congress, according to the Small Business Administration. At that rate, the $310 billion lifeline would be exhausted within seven business days.
- President Donald Trump touted the “amazing” numbers of emergency small business loans being issued — even as anxious lenders warned that the administration was leaving scores of their customers in limbo.
At an event in the East Room of the White House, Trump praised the success of the Paycheck Protection Program.
- President Trump said his administration has been in touch with airlines about testing passengers coming to the U.S. from South America for the coronavirus.
“We’re talking to the governor, we’re talking with others also that have a lot of business coming in from South America, Latin America, and we’ll make a determination,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “We’re also setting up a system where we do some testing and we’re working with the airlines on that. Testing on the plane.”
Asked if he meant temperature checks or coronavirus tests, Trump said it would be both.
- President Trump signed an executive order using the Defense Production Act to order meat processing plants to stay open and designating them as critical infrastructure.
The order will apply to all meat processing plants in the U.S. in an effort to prevent further disruptions to the food supply
- President Trump suggested that federal assistance to states financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak could be tied to whether so-called sanctuary cities make adjustments to their immigration policies.
- The Food and Drug Administration asked hand sanitizer manufacturers to take extra steps to ensure their products aren’t consumed internally.
“It is important that hand sanitizer be manufactured in a way that makes them unpalatable to people, especially young children, and that they are appropriately labeled to discourage accidental or intentional ingestion,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement Monday.
- A federal court has blocked the Trump administration from giving stimulus funds to corporations owned by Alaska Natives, largely siding with tribes who argue the funds were intended for governments assisting with the pandemic.
- Only 14.2 percent of the 12 million people who filed new unemployment claims in March had received their funds that month, according to an analysis by The Century Foundation.
- White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said that officials are studying the need for more stimulus checks to blunt the economic damage of the coronavirus, suggesting they could be part of a future relief package.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people follow the same social distancing guidelines with their pets as they would human family members after a small number of animals, including dogs and cats, were reportedly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
CDC guidelines recommend people restrict their pets from interacting with other animals when outside their house and urge people to keep cats indoors when possible and to walk dogs on a leash while maintaining at least six feet from other people and animals.
Other Administration News
- Federal appellate judges grilled the Trump administration in its dispute with the House over former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena for his testimony.
In perhaps the most high-profile court hearing since the coronavirus pandemic forced the judiciary to hold virtual proceedings, the Trump administration and the House delivered oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the McGahn case as well on a dispute over whether the administration can use Pentagon funds to build a border wall.
- The Pentagon is taking money from 19 construction projects, including several in Europe meant to deter Russia, in order to pay for construction projects stateside that had been delayed because funding was reallocated to President Trump’s border wall.
In a memo dated Monday obtained by The Hill, Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker to take $545.5 million from projects largely outside the United States to pay for projects within the country.
- Two environmental watchdog groups are threatening to sue the Department of the Interior for continuously filling top posts with temporary orders — a move that skirts Senate confirmation.
President Trump hasn’t nominated a permanent director for either the Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service through his tenure.
- President Trump and his advisers are offering a barrage of increasingly urgent ideas for propping up faltering oil producers — but people in the industry are skeptical that anything will come of it.
The administration has so far jettisoned plans to buy oil for the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, nixed an idea to eliminate royalty payments for energy produced on federal lands and dropped a discussion of paying oil companies not to produce oil. The latest idea floated last week calls for the Treasury Department to create a fund to lend money to struggling oil producers — and take partial ownership stakes in the companies while requiring them to reduce their output.
Sources: ABC News, AP, CBS News, CNN, Fox News,The Hill, Mother Jones, NBC News, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Washington Post