Congress is set to pass an approximately $2 trillion relief package to boost the ailing economy and give relief to struggling workers and local governments during the fight to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Provisions in the bill will bar President Donald Trump‘s private businesses — which he has controversially chosen not to divest — from receiving that bailout money.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer assured his fellow Democratic lawmakers in an early morning letter on Wednesday that Democrats and Republicans agreed to language in the historic stimulus package that will prevent businesses owned by Trump or his family members from benefitting from the aid, according to multiple news reports.
Schumer, 69, told CNN on Wednesday that the provisions restrict the financial assistance “not just [to] the president.”
“Any major figure in government” will not be eligible to receive the aid being made available during the economic slowdown caused by the virus, which has forced millions of people to stay home.
“Cabinet, Senate, congressmen — if they or their family have majority control, they can’t get grants or loans and that makes sense,” Schumer said. “Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law.”
There had been nearly 60,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and 804 deaths as of Wednesday morning, according to a New York Times tracker.
Businesses around the country have scrambled to navigate shutdowns, as health officials and the federal government urged Americans this month to refrain from public gatherings and stay home to practice “social distancing” as a way to slow the spread of the virus. This led to widespread layoffs, furloughs, cut hours and a drastic spike in unemployment claims.
Schumer said “we don’t know” if the $2 trillion bill — the largest stimulus package in modern American history — will be enough to bridge the gap for the U.S. economy as it waits out the virus while researchers work on treatments and a vaccine.
“The two awful things about this crisis are that, one, we don’t know how long this will last,” Schumer told CNN, adding, “The second problem about this crisis is it separates us. Isolation is tough.”
The Washington Post reported this week that six of President Trump’s “top seven revenue-producing clubs and hotels” have shut down because of the virus, which has essentially halted daily life for many across the country.
Trump’s private businesses, which includes the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, are under the control of his sons Don Jr. and Eric.
The president declined to put his assets in a blind trust after winning the presidency, though he has insisted he has no operational control of the businesses while in office. He still frequents his properties and some of them have become magnets for political figures and visiting government officials.
This arrangement has drawn the ire of ethics watchdogs — in contrast to previous presidents, like Jimmy Carter, who sold their businesses to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the bill’s provisions.
The president previously said he wasn’t sure how the federal aid would work with his company.
“I don’t know. I mean, I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have,” Trump told reporters on Saturday. “I have hotels. Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected so it’s one of those things.”
This week he began openly hoping for American businesses to reopen by April 12, which health officials have warned against — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, who said that such a date may not be safe if the virus isn’t contained.
“I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said Tuesday during a virtual town hall hosted by Fox News.
Epidemic experts warn that rushing the decision to resume normal business so quickly could be dangerous, as health officials are still gathering information about the highly contagious coronavirus and urging people to stay home to slow new infections so as not to overwhelm hospitals.
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Trump suggested Tuesday a modified approach to social distancing, in which employees could return to work but maintain a physical distance from one another and wash their hands regularly.
Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and a leading voice on global health outbreaks, tells PEOPLE that “you can’t” maintain social distancing protocols while simultaneously going to work in offices.
“It’s impossible,” Hotez tells PEOPLE.
Outbreaks have occurred in cities around the country.
“It’s a short-term decision that has long-term consequences,” Hotez says. “I’m arguing we’re not in a position to make that decision by April 12 yet, because we don’t know the full extent of this epidemic. But we’ll know a lot more in a month than we will now.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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