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Trump urges Congress to pass pandemic economic relief package

President Trump held another news briefing on COVID-19 Wednesday evening, this time announcing his intention to sign the pandemic aid package the Senate drafted in conjunction with his administration. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss what Trump said about that bill as well as progress on coronavirus testing in the U.S.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, this evening, President Trump held another briefing on COVID-19, this time declaring victory on the pandemic aid package still being held up in Congress.

    But let's turn right now to our Yamiche Alcindor, who has been listening in.

    So, Yamiche, we know the White House was — has been involved in those negotiations on the Hill. What are they saying about where things stand right now?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, just a few moments ago at the White House, President Trump said he would sign the $2 trillion coronavirus bill if it was sent to him immediately. So, he was urging the House and the Senate to move quickly.

    One thing that was remarkable, the Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said, even though the $2 trillion bill would be the largest stimulus package passed by Congress, if it passes, he said it would only keep the economy afloat for three months.

    The president said, if we have to go back, we will. So, already, even though this is a huge bill, federal officials are already saying they might have to have another bill to keep the economy going.

    Another thing to note, this bill, President Trump is going to be exempt from using any of the small business or large business loans. So there's going be $500 billion in this bill, and Democrats fought and got an exemption for President Trump. So his family business, his hotels, his resorts, none of them will be able to use this bailout money.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Yamiche, just to be clear, even though some Republicans have objected to unemployment benefit language in the bill, the president is saying he's good with it?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's right.

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: This is a bill to get people back to work. We're fine with the unemployment benefits, and we want it to go forward.

    And the president said: I will sign it immediately.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And then, also quickly, Yamiche, we know the president and others at the briefing spoke about the status of the fight against the coronavirus. What are they saying?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president was praising the job that he's been doing, and he talked specifically about testing.

    Here's what he said:

  • President Donald Trump:

    We're also doing some very large testings throughout the country. I told you yesterday that, in South Korea — this is not a knock in any way, because I have — I just spoke with President Moon. We had a very good conversation about numerous other things.

    But they have done a very good job in testing. But we now are doing more testing that anybody by far. We do more in eight days than they do in eight weeks.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Just a quick fact-check here.

    President Trump is saying the United States is doing more testing. But South Korea is six times — is only one-sixth the population of the United States. They're doing more testing per capita than the United States.

    Also, the United States was slow at testing. So, this is testing being ramped up. That's why we're now testing so many people, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Important points to make.

    Yamiche Alcindor, following this very late-day briefing at the White House, Yamiche, thank you.

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