Sen. Rand Paul Recovers From CCP Virus, Starts Volunteering at Hospital

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he’s recovered from the CCP virus and has begun volunteering at a hospital.
Paul, 57, tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, last month and entered quarantine. He said he did not know how he became infected and would not have been tested under guidelines at the time.
Speaking on social media on Tuesday, Paul revealed he recovered from the virus and that he’s been volunteering to help patients with COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.
“I appreciate all the best wishes I have received. I have been retested and I am negative. I have started volunteering at a local hospital to assist those in my community who are in need of medical help, including Coronavirus patients. Together we will overcome this!” he said.

I appreciate all the best wishes I have received. I have been retested and I am negative. I have started volunteering at a local hospital to assist those in my community who are in need of medical help, including Coronavirus patients. Together we will overcome this! pic.twitter.com/9SeypT7rL6
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2020

The senator shared a picture showing him in the garb he wears while volunteering.
Paul was the first U.S. senator to test positive for the CCP virus. His diagnosis prompted several other senators, including Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), to enter quarantine.
No other senators have tested positive positive for COVID-19 and Romney and Lee later exited isolation.
A number of lawmakers in the House of Representatives have tested positive for the new disease, including Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), and Mike Kelly (R-Penn.).
No lawmakers have required hospitalization. About 80 percent of people infected with the CCP virus show no, mild, or moderate symptoms, and are asked to isolate at home while recovering.
The illness, which emerged from China last year, has a mortality rate of around 1 percent or less when including the asymptomatic cases authorities aren’t able to confirm, according to top public health officials. Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and include fever, fatigue, and cough, while preventative measures include avoiding crowds, frequently washing hands, and regularly cleaning objects and surfaces like doorknobs.
As of Tuesday, the United States has 11,851 deaths and 379,965 cases, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Trump Replaces DOD IG, Removing Him From Pandemic Relief Oversight Panel

President Donald Trump replaced the inspector general for the Department of Defense (DOD) after he was named to lead a committee investigating the $2.2 trillion CCP virus relief package that was passed by Congress.
“Yesterday, the president nominated Mr. Jason Abend for the position of DOD Inspector General,” Dwrena Allen, spokeswoman at the DOD Office of the Inspector General, told media outlets in an email on Tuesday. “The same day, the president also designated Mr. Sean W. O’Donnell, who is the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General (EPA IG), to serve as the Acting DOD IG in addition to his current duties at the EPA.”
Glenn Fine, who had served as the acting Pentagon inspector general since 2016, will not lead the COVID-19 pandemic oversight panel, Allen said. He will be the principal deputy inspector general in the agency.
Fine “remains focused and committed to the important mission of the DOD OIG,” Allen told The Hill, adding that Fine will no longer be on the panel investigating the pandemic relief package.
“Mr. Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee,” she said in a statement.
Last week, when he was appointed to head the committee, the move drew bipartisan words of praise.
“Glenn Fine has a good reputation as a tough federal prosecutor and former [Department of Justice] Inspector General, and must exercise his full oversight authority to ensure that the Trump administration implements the CARES Act as intended,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) stated at the time.

People are tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing center in Dearborn, Michigan, on March 26, 2020. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images)
Congress last month passed the major stimulus package bill to help support small businesses and American taxpayers who have suffered economic losses during the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus outbreak. The Pandemic Response committee was written into law to provide oversight of the $2.2 trillion package.
Before he joined the DOD, Fine worked as inspector general for the Department of Justice under Democratic and Republican administrations.
Trump last month wrote in a signing statement attached to the bailout law that he thinks the inspector general should get his permission before reporting back to Congress information about a $500 billion relief fund for businesses.
“I do not understand, and my administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [the inspector general] to issue reports to Congress without presidential supervision,” he wrote in a statement.
Abend, meanwhile, is a senior policy adviser with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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Stephanie Grisham out as White House Press Secretary, Will Work for First Lady

Stephanie Grisham, press secretary for First Lady Melania Trump, attends the Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 21, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham will depart her role and will become First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and spokeswoman, according to a statement from Trump’s office.
“I am excited to welcome Stephanie back to the team in this new role,” said the first lady in a statement on Tuesday morning. “She has been a mainstay and true leader in the Administration from even before day one, and I know she will excel as Chief of Staff. I appreciate all that Lindsay Reynolds did over the past three years, and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
Grisham, who took the job as press secretary about a year ago, said she is honored to work for the first lady. Before taking the role as the top White House spokesperson, she worked for Melania Trump.
A replacement for Grisham, who took over when Sarah Huckabee Sanders left her role as White House press secretary, hasn’t yet been named. Grisham notably did not host a press briefing at any point during her tenure and had a lower profile than Sanders or her predecessor, Sean Spicer.
“I continue to be honored to serve both the President and First Lady in the Administration,” said Grisham. “ My replacements will be announced in the coming days and I will stay in the West Wing to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed.”
The first lady’s office said her spokeswoman, Lindsay Reynolds, had resigned earlier in the week to spend more time with her family.

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Pelosi: House will Shift to Electronic Floor Documents to Combat the Spread of Virus

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the House will move to a digital system to submit Floor documents in order to prevent representatives and staff from catching the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. In a letter sent to her House colleagues on Monday, the senior Democrat said leaders are looking to take the […]

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Trump Says US Companies Discussed Treatment for Boris Johnson With UK Doctors

President Donald Trump said that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have discussed “recently developed” treatment for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was admitted to intensive care on Monday afternoon with the CCP virus.
Johnson was diagnosed with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, on March 27. His condition worsened over Monday afternoon and he was moved to intensive care on the advice of his medical team.
Although the UK prime minister had received oxygen, his office said on Monday he was still conscious and was moved to intensive care just in case he needed to be put on a ventilator.
“He’s not on a ventilator no,” Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC radio on Tuesday. “The prime minister has received some oxygen support and he is kept under, of course, close supervision.”
Trump said Monday night that he asked two leading U.S. companies to contact London immediately.
“These are brilliant companies—Ebola, AIDS, others—they’ve come with the solutions and just have done incredible jobs … They have offices in London, major companies. More than major, more than size, they’re genius,” the president said of the companies.

Trump added that he had spoken to four companies and that he understands that they “have really advanced therapeutics.”
“They have arrived in London already,” Trump said. “Their London office has whatever they need and we will see if we can be of help—we have contacted all of Boris’s doctors and we will see what is going to take place. But they are ready to go … The two companies are there and with what they are talking about—and it is rather complex and has had really incredible results—we are working with the FDA and everybody else but we are working with London with respect to Boris Johnson.”
Earlier in the day, Trump spoke by telephone with CEOs of four pharmaceutical companies—Amgen, Genetech, Gilead, and Regeneron.
“The president acknowledged the industry’s progress in developing therapeutics to fight this pandemic and promised the federal government will continue to be a helpful partner with science and data leading the way,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “The executives thanked President Trump for directing his administration to break down barriers, cut red tape, and encourage cooperation across all industries and government to best meet the needs of the American people during this unprecedented time.”
A reporter asked Trump about what treatment was discussed for Johnson, and whether the treatment is available to the American public.
“It’s a very complex treatment of things that they’ve just recently developed, and that they have a lot of experience with having to do with something else—but recent for this. They’ve already concurred, they’ve already had meetings with the doctors and we’ll see whether or not they want to go that route,” Trump responded.
“I think we have three of them. I spoke with four. You know who the four would be,” Trump said, without naming the companies at the press conference.
Trump also expressed well-wishes and praised the UK prime minister.
“I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” Trump said. “He has been a really good friend, something very special—strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”
“I found Boris to be a fantastic person,” the president later said. “Just like a fantastic, warm, strong, smart guy. He loves his country. You see that. He fought like hell for his country. Intensive care is big stuff. Really big.”
When asked by a reporter from The Guardian about whether Johnson’s initially relaxed approach to the pandemic may have been a mistake, Trump said: “I think he was looking at it differently. He was looking at it earlier. He was looking at it like, ‘ride it out.’ There were many people thinking about riding it out. Meaning, you know, whatever it is, it is.”
“But then you see what starts to happen and the numbers become monumental,” Trump continued. “And they decide not to do that.”
Trump noted that the UK has now moved to a “very strict lockdown, but they’re suffering greatly as a nation right now. They’re a nation that’s having a difficult time.”
“[Boris Johnson]’s just such an incredible guy. It was so shocking to see that. You know what that means, intensive care is a big deal with regard to what we’re talking about,” Trump said.
Trump noted that the United States moved quickly in imposing a travel ban from China, while the UK prime minister “waited a little while and he felt that.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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Editorial: Giving the Right Name to the Virus Causing a Worldwide Pandemic

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy

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Trump Asks Hong Kong Phoenix TV Reporter If She Works for China

On Monday at a White House press briefing on the CCP virus, President Donald Trump asked a Chinese reporter from the pro-Beijing television network, Hong Kong Phoenix TV, whether she was working for China.
“Who are you working for, China?” Trump asked the reporter.
“No, I’m working for Hong Kong Phoenix TV,” the female reporter, Youyou Wang, responded.
“Who owns that, China?” the president asked. “Is it owned by the state?”
“It’s based in Hong Kong,” she said.
“No, is it owned by the state?” Trump said, appearing to refer to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“No, it’s not, it’s a privately owned company,” the reporter said.
“Okay, good,” Trump replied and continued to respond to the reporter’s original question.

Phoenix TV is based in Hong Kong, where media have the legal right to operate independently of Chinese censorship. However, the station has long been known as a de-facto mouthpiece for Beijing—and specifically, a faction within the CCP loyal to former leader Jiang Zemin, who was the party boss from 1989 to 2002.
Pro-Beijing Agenda
The television station presents itself as an independent voice, concealing its pro-Beijing agenda by occasionally reporting on topics taboo in mainland China, such as food safety scandals. Its founder and CEO, Liu Changle, was a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) propaganda offer. He later worked at the Communist Party’s official radio station.
Since Liu founded Phoenix TV in 1996, the broadcaster has consistently carried out the agenda of former leader Jiang, including aiding in Jiang’s propaganda campaign to smear Falun Gong and turn public opinion against the group. Falun Gong is a spiritual meditation practice that has since grown in popularity to be practiced worldwide since its introduction to the public in 1992. The Epoch Times has identified multiple television segments aired by Phoenix since 1999 that defame Falun Gong.
China expert Sarah Cook, of the Freedom House human-rights group, said in 2017 U.S. congressional testimony (pdf) that Phoenix TV is “an example of a Chinese propaganda outlet not directly owned by the Beijing government.” At the time of Cook’s statements, the Chinese state broadcaster, CCTV, had a 10-percent stake in Phoenix.
Liu is also known to be a close friend to Bo Xilai, a core member of Jiang’s faction and the former Chongqing party chief, who dramatically fell from power in 2012. In 2011 Liu brought a team from Phoenix TV to Chongqing to give Bo positive media coverage.
During the 2014 Umbrella Movement, the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong that dominated headlines around the world, Phoenix TV portrayed the protesters as meddlers who intentionally clashed with police and caused disruption to the city.
Phase One Trade Deal
When initially picked by Trump to ask a question, the reporter, Youyou Wang, first noted how the CCP had provided medical supplies to the United States.
Wang said that there were “multiple flights coming from China full of medical supplies” last week, where companies such as Huawei and Alibaba have been donating some “1.5 million N95 masks … medical gloves,” and “much more medical supplies” to the United States.
“Sounds like a statement more than a question,” Trump interjected.

Wang continued, saying that overnight, the Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times “calling for cooperation with the United States.” In the opinion article, Tiankai highlighted the medical aid that the CCP had provided the United States and other countries during the CCP virus pandemic.
“So are you personally working directly with China on medical supplies and also fighting with the virus?” the reporter asked Trump. “Are you cooperating with China?” she later repeated.
The president did not address the situation with the CCP virus directly but responded that the United States and China have just kickstarted a “phase one” trade deal that the two countries reached in January.
The trade deal had gone into effect several days ago, Trump noted earlier in the conference. “As you know, as of April 1, the China trade deal, $250 billion—they purchased $250 billion from us, if not more,” he said. Trump added that about $40-50 billion is expected to be spent on agricultural products, which he said: “should have a huge impact on our farmers.”
“I hope they’re going to honor that trade deal. If they don’t honor the trade deal, then I’ll tell you a different answer, but I think they will,” Trump told the Chinese reporter. “They’re going to spend billions of dollars for agriculture. They’re going to spend billions of dollars for different things.”
“China’s never spent money in our country,” he added. “We spent money; we had a deficit, a trade deficit with China for years of $500 billion, $400 billion. We had the biggest trade deficits in the history of the world with China. Now China’s going to spend a lot—has agreed to spend $250 billion, many billions of dollars in our country. Much of it going to farmers and manufacturers. So I’ll let you know. I hope they’re going to honor the deal. We’ll find out.”
“It’s time for them [China] to help us,” Trump later said. “It’s time right now for China to help us. And hopefully, they do, and if they don’t, then that’s okay too. But we signed a deal, and it was signed with great goodwill and spirit. And it’s time that our farmers benefited and that our manufacturers benefit.”
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Key Provisions of US–China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal
US, China Sign ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal, Calming Trade Tensions

The phase one trade deal meant that the United States scrapped its planned tariffs on roughly $156 billion of Chinese consumer products. The United States also halved tariffs—from 15 percent to 7.5 percent—on about $120 billion of China-made consumer goods.
The deal maintained 25 percent of import taxes on about $250 billion of China-made industrial goods and components used by U.S. manufacturers.
Under the deal, the Chinese regime committed to buying over the next two years at least an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods and services, over a baseline of $186 billion in purchases in 2017. This includes purchases of manufactured goods, such as aircraft, pharmaceuticals, and industrial machinery, which will increase by $77.7 billion over the two years.
The deal includes an agreement for Beijing to purchase an additional $32 billion of farm goods over the next two years, including soybeans, cotton, grains, and meat. It also pledged to strive to buy an additional $5 billion of agricultural products annually. Also, the regime agreed to allow more market access to U.S. meat, poultry, dairy, pet food, and agriculture biotechnology.
Zhang Xianyi, Sunny Chao and Cathy He contributed to this report
Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy

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Concerns Rise Over Beijing’s Use of Pandemic to Advance Its Agenda Overseas

WASHINGTON—China has lured many countries into a debt trap through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in recent years, and now there is a growing concern in Washington that Beijing could exploit the ongoing pandemic to further expand its geopolitical influence through predatory practices.
China’s BRI, also referred to as “One Belt, One Road” or the “New Silk Road,” is one of the world’s most ambitious and controversial development programs. Since its launch in 2013, Beijing has poured billions of dollars into emerging countries to help build massive infrastructure projects.
In recent years, the BRI has come under scrutiny, as most of the projects are financed through Chinese state-controlled lenders with a lack of transparency, leaving borrowing nations distressed by massive debt burdens. Beijing has come under fire for setting a “debt trap” to seize control of strategic assets in emerging countries.
Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port has been cited as a classic example, as a Chinese state-owned firm took control of the port on a 99-year lease after Sri Lanka defaulted on its loans.
The Trump administration has voiced a hard line against China’s ambitions to grow its footprint in emerging markets, and the CCP virus outbreak has amplified these concerns.
“These emerging market countries are going to be in a world of hurt,” a senior administration official told The Epoch Times.
The official said there’s an urgent need for debt relief in these countries.
In recent years, the Chinese regime has fostered its “debt trap” diplomacy with the concept of “building a community of common destiny” for mankind, the official noted.
If China is really promoting a community of common destiny, “then they should jump on the bandwagon for debt relief.”
“But chances are they’re going to fight that tooth and nail. And we’ll be able to use that to call them out consistently on their bad practices in emerging markets.”
U.S. foreign policy and financial assistance are directed toward making emerging countries “self-reliant,” the official said.
However, “China is not interested in the self-reliance of these countries. China, the PRC, is interested in perpetuating dependence.”
The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in March urged all official bilateral creditors to suspend debt payments from the world’s 76 poorest countries and allow them to redirect funds toward fighting the pandemic.
World Bank President David Malpass, during the Group of Twenty (G-20) finance ministers conference call on March 23, raised this issue and asked the G-20 economies including China to provide immediate debt relief to the 76 countries.
“This crisis will likely hit hardest against the poorest and most vulnerable countries,” Malpass said on the call. “Many were already in a difficult debt situation, leaving no space for appropriate health and economic response.”
The World Bank could provide up to $35 billion and identify additional resources for these countries. However, these resources shouldn’t go to pay creditors, he added.
Fixing Supply Chains
The pandemic has awakened many advanced economies to the real danger of being overly dependent on the Chinese regime for vital products such as medical supplies and life-saving drugs.
“The Chinese supply chain is the single point of failure in the global response to the coronavirus outbreak,” the senior administration official said.
The U.S. government is now speaking with counterparts in the Group of Seven (G-7), as well as countries such as Mexico and India, the official said, about the need to reexamine global supply chains.
The U.S. government has criticized Beijing for using the pandemic to advance its agenda overseas. China has been engaged in a wide-reaching propaganda effort on social media, portraying itself as a compassionate global superpower assisting Western countries.
Speaking at a press briefing on March 26, James Richardson, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, said the Chinese regime shouldn’t exploit the pandemic.
“I would just say that the Chinese Communist Party has a special responsibility to provide no-strings-attached assistance around the world and take responsibility for what everyone realizes is the result of the coverup that happened in Wuhan,” Richardson said.
“We can’t burden financially difficult countries facing this pandemic in addition to their economic conditions. We should not ask them to take on more debt to keep their people healthy.”
Experts and media reports claim that the regime has deliberately masked the total number of COVID-19 cases in China in a bid to safeguard its image both nationally and internationally.
Chinese officials and state-run media have attempted to shift the blame for the regime’s failure to contain the virus by pushing conspiracy theories targeting the United States as part of an aggressive global disinformation campaign.
Follow Emel on Twitter: @mlakan

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Atkinson Claims Trump Fired Him for Role in Impeachment; But Critical IG Memo May Also Have Been a Factor

Inspector General for the Intelligence Community (ICIG) Michael Atkinson said late Sunday President Donald Trump fired him in reprisal for referring the impeachment whistleblower’s complaint to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
“It is hard not to think that the president’s loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial inspector general, and from my commitment to continue to do so,” Atkinson said in a statement made public late Sunday.
Trump told Schiff and other congressional intelligence officials Friday that he was terminating Atkinson effective in 30 days after losing confidence in him. Trump named National Geospatial Intelligence Agency General Counsel Thomas Monheim as Atkinson’s acting replacement.
Asked about the action during Saturday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force media briefing, Trump said Atkinson’s actions regarding the whistleblower’s complaint were “a total disgrace”
Trumped said Atkinson “did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report, it was a fake, it was about my conversation with the president of Ukraine, and he brought it to Congress with an emergency.”
Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky occurred July 25, 2019, and a transcript was released Sept. 25, 2019. The whistleblower, who has not been officially named, was not among the White House and intelligence officials who overheard the conversation.
House Democrats impeached Trump on two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, based largely on the complaint. The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, decisively rejected both charges in acquitting Trump.
Trump’s description of Atkinson’s job performance as “absolutely terrible” may have, besides the impeachment events, alluded to recent controversies involving him.
Atkinson figured prominently in multiple controversies in the FBI’s spying on members of Trump’s 2016 campaign based on allegations they were cooperating with Russian intelligence interests against the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz—who issued a statement lauding Atkinson following Trump’s announcement—released an March 30 memorandum on those FBI abuses, citing serious flaws found in 25 of 29 bureau applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court seeking permission to spy on individuals between October 2014 and September 2019.
All of the flaws in the applications submitted by the bureau to the court were related to the so-called “Woods Procedures” requiring the FBI to document its evidence to justify such applications and certifying to the credibility and accuracy of the evidence.
“Additionally, for all 25 FISA applications with Woods Files that we have reviewed to date, we identified facts stated in the FISA application that were: (a) not supported by any documentation in the Woods File, (b) not clearly corroborated by the supporting documentation in the Woods File, or (c) inconsistent with the supporting documentation in the Woods File,” Horowitz said in the memorandum.
The DOJ IG said there were on average 20 serious flaws in the applications reviewed.
Atkinson was Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division, Mary McCord, during much of the period covered by the IG’s review and was responsible for accuracy reviews to ensure application compliance with the Woods Procedures.
After leaving the Justice Department, McCord became a counsel to Schiff’s impeachment effort.
A White House spokesman declined to comment when asked Monday by The Epoch Times if the Horowitz memorandum was a factor in the President’s deliberations in firing Atkinson.
It was also reported after Atkinson forwarded the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress as an “urgent” matter that the ICIG had changed a key requirement for such a document to be accepted as credible.
In a Sept. 30, 2019, statement, Atkinson’s office admitted that “consistent with the law, the new forms do not require whistleblowers to possess first-hand information in order to file a complaint or information with respect to an urgent concern”
The changed form was first reported by The Federalist co-founder, Sean Davis.
Schiff has since refused repeated requests from congressional Republicans and members of the media to make public the transcript of Atkinson’s secret testimony about his role in the whistle blower complaint saga.
Congress is on its Easter recess, so reaction has been quiet.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), a long-time defender of the IG system and a critic of the FBI’s conduct regarding the FISA court, said in a statement Saturday that “Congress has been crystal clear that written reasons must be given when IGs are removed for a lack of confidence. More details are needed from the administration.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called Trump’s action a “shameful late-night firing” and “a brazen act against a patriotic public servant.”
Schiff, who led the House Democrats’ drive that resulted in Trump’s impeachment on two charges in December 2019, tweeted Atkinson’s statement late Sunday. Schiff described Trump’s action as a “retaliatory firing.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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Wisconsin’s Governor Postpones Election to June Over Pandemic

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday signed an order suspending all in-person voting for the state’s primary while pushing the date back to June 9 over fears of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All ballots already cast in the 2020 Spring election will remain valid and will be tallied in conjunction with the new in-person voting date,” he wrote on Twitter. “The order also calls the Legislature to meet in special session tomorrow, giving them another opportunity to address the in-person election date. If they fail to act, in-person voting will occur on June 9, 2020.”
Evers said in an accompanying news conference that no Wisconsin resident should have to choose between voting and their own health as the United States is in the midst of a pandemic.

In the absence of legislative action, today I signed Executive order #74 suspending in-person voting for the April 7 spring election until June 9, 2020.
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) April 6, 2020

“I cannot in good conscience allow any types of gathering that would further the spread of this disease and to put more lives at risk,” he said. “I have been advised by public health experts at the Department of Health Services that despite the heroic efforts and good work of our local election officials, poll workers, and national guard troops, there is not a sufficiently safe way to administer in-person voting tomorrow.”
Previously, the governor said he didn’t have the authority to move the election. But on Monday morning, Wisconsin’s state legislature went ahead with in-person voting on Tuesday despite the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus epidemic.
Evers issued a stay-at-home order last month in Wisconsin, one of the first states to report a CCP virus case in the United States in February, as part of his administration’s efforts to deal with the pandemic. Wisconsin was the last one to hold in-person voting after all other states postponed theirs or moved to mail-in ballots.
“The virus directs us as to what our decision-making is, not human beings, and clearly I am following the science, as I always have,” he told Politico in an interview on Monday, adding that he heard residents tell him they are fearful for their safety.
State Republicans announced they would seek legal action through the Wisconsin Supreme Court to challenge Evers’ order.
Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who are both Republicans, said the order would be challenged.
“The clerks of this state should stand ready to proceed with the election,” Vos and Fitzgerald said. “The governor’s executive order is clearly an unconstitutional overreach.”
Democrats in Wisconsin have criticized Republicans for trying to force the vote to go forward. Republicans have cited the potential for voter fraud and the short timeline to fill state and local offices that are on the ballot.
Democrats have said Republicans are more interested in dampening turnout in state races, particularly for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could be instrumental in ruling on future voting-rights cases in the battleground state crucial to November’s presidential election.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Trump Names Thomas Monheim Acting Intelligence Community Inspector General

President Donald Trump has named National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency general counsel Thomas Monheim as acting intelligence community inspector general, a day after he fired Michael Atkinson, telling reporters at the White House that Atkinson mishandled the whistleblower complaint that led to the first partisan impeachment of a president and his subsequent acquittal.
Monheim’s appointment was announced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) in a statement on Twitter, shortly before the president said at a White House CCP virus Task Force briefing on April 5 that he had fired Atkinson.
“Thomas Monheim has been named the Acting IC Inspector General,” the DNI said. “Monheim is a career intelligence professional and retired colonel from the U.S. Air Force Reserves who has served our nation in a wide variety of roles throughout his distinguished career.”

President Trump on Michael Atkinson: “I thought he did a terrible job. Absolutely terrible. He took a whistleblower report, which turned out to be a fake report…it was about my conversation with the president of Ukraine. He took a fake report and he brought it to Congress.” pic.twitter.com/nctqgPNQ7T
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 4, 2020

During his time with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Monheim provided legal advice to “enable NGA’s mission consistent with the Constitution and law,” the DNI said.
“His military service includes time as a prosecutor, defense counsel, military judge, and Deputy General Counsel of the White House Military Office,” it continued. “He mobilized for 9 months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and for another 9 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Trump on Saturday described Atkinson as a “total disgrace,” as he defended his decision to remove him.
“That’s my decision. I have the absolute right,” the president said.
Trump noted that the anonymous whistleblower’s complaint didn’t have to be rushed and that Atkinson himself determined that there were indications of political bias by the complainant.
In a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee on April 3, Trump said that he would remove Atkinson from office “effective 30 days from today.”
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general.”
“That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general,” Trump said in the letter.
Atkinson played a central role in the genesis of the impeachment probe against Trump. He vetted the whistleblower complaint and determined that it should be forwarded to Congress as an urgent concern. The complaint centered on Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Many questions remain about some controversial aspects of Atkinson’s involvement. Shortly after the submission of the Ukraine complaint, the intelligence community inspector general’s (ICIG) office altered its whistleblower complaint form to remove instructions that directed complainants that the office would only review firsthand information. The impeachment whistleblower’s complaint consisted almost entirely of secondhand claims.
Atkinson issued a lengthy explanation as to why the form was altered, explaining that the firsthand requirement was removed due to scrutiny from the media. He explained that the ICIG does not actually have a requirement for firsthand information and that the form was adjusted accordingly.
The whistleblower also falsely claimed on the complaint form that he or she hadn’t spoken to Congress about the matter.
Atkinson testified before the House Intelligence Committee during its impeachment inquiry. His testimony is the only one that remains classified and was never released by the Democrat-controlled committee. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) later revealed that his office had in fact communicated with the whistleblower prior to the submission of the complaint.
Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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President Trump Declares Major Disaster In All 50 US States

All 50 states and territories in the U.S. have now been approved for major disaster declarations, President Trump announced at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing April 5.
The major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work. The United States is already under a national emergency declaration, issued March 13, which freed up $50 billion in emergency relief funds for cities and states.
“I just want to say … this is an all-out military operation that we’ve waged and especially over the last number of weeks. 50 states and territories have now been approved for major disaster declarations, which is very unusual thanks to the Army Corps of engineers,” Trump said.
The president also noted that New York city’s Javits Center is now one of the largest hospitals in the United States, and “staffed by hundreds of federal medical personnel deployed from two army hospital units,” which he said are “doing a great job.” Trump said that his administration would be delivering an additional 600,000 N95 masks to the city on Monday to “take care of the needs of the public hospital system.”
Ventilators will also be delivered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to hard-hit states, including Louisiana, which will be receiving 200. Michigan will get 300, Massachusetts will get 100, New Jersey will get 500, and 600 will be going to Illinois, Trump said.
Trump also thanked Governor Inslee of Washington for returning 400 ventilators that they no longer need, which can now be deployed elsewhere in our country. He said Inslee felt “confident that they are in good shape for the coming weeks until we can declare a final victory.”
“As of Tuesday, we’ll have deployed over 3,000 military and public health professionals to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other parts of our country. 3,000, and that number is going up, and we hope we’re seeing a leveling off in the hottest spots of them all. So we’ll see. You’ll be seeing that over the next few days. Let’s see what happens. But we’re prepared,” he said.
Additionally, 1,200 brand new rapid point-of-care testing kits, which take 15 minutes to produce a result, and which the president said are “very fast and very accurate,” will be distributed to public health labs by Tuesday. Trump added that more are being produced and will be sent to other countries in the future.
The president also said that 1.67 million Americans have now been tested and given the results for the virus. He noted that the United States would “endure the peak of this terrible pandemic” in the coming days before thanking the “incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare workers on the front line of the fight,” which he called “warriors.”
His administration is also purchasing and stockpiling hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been traditionally used to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. The President has touted the drug as a means to combat the CCP virus, which stands for the “Chinese communist party virus” and previously called a “game-changer.”
Doctors in the United States are currently prescribing hydroxychloroquine, as is France, and Bahrain, while India has recommended it for health care workers. Despite it showing promising results, health officials have warned the public to remain cautious until larger clinical trials validate smaller studies.
Among them is Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. At a White House news conference on March 20, he said data on the drug so far “was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it,” and that only such studies would determine if the drug was truly safe and effective.

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Trump Defends Firing of Intelligence Watchdog: ‘He’s a Total Disgrace’

President Donald Trump on April 4 defended his decision to fire Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, telling reporters at the White House that Atkinson mishandled the whistleblower complaint that led to the first partisan impeachment of a president and his subsequent acquittal.
“He’s a total disgrace,” Trump said. “That’s my decision. I have the absolute right.”
The president noted that the anonymous whistleblower’s complaint did not have to be rushed and that Atkinson himself determined that there were indications of political bias by the complainant.
In a letter to the Senate intelligence committee on Friday, Trump said that he would remove Atkinson from office “effective 30 days from today.”
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as president, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general.”
“That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general,” Trump said in the letter.
Atkinson played a central role in the genesis of the impeachment probe against Trump. He vetted the whistleblower complaint and determined that it should be forwarded to Congress as an urgent concern. The complaint centered on Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Many questions remain about some controversial aspects of Atkinson’s involvement. Shortly after the submission of the Ukraine complaint, the intelligence community inspector general’s (ICIG) office altered its whistleblower complaint form to remove instructions which directed complainants that the office would only review first-hand information. The impeachment whistleblower’s complaint consisted almost entirely of second-hand claims.
Atkinson issued a lengthy explanation of why the form was altered, explaining that the first-hand requirement was removed due to scrutiny from the media. He explained that the ICIG does not actually have a requirement for first hand information and that the form was adjusted accordingly.
The whistleblower also falsely claimed on the complaint form that he or she had not spoken to Congress about the matter.
Atkinson testified before the House Intelligence Committee during its impeachment inquiry. His testimony is the only one which remains classified and was never released by the Democrat-controlled committee. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) later revealed that his office had in fact communicated with the whistleblower prior to the submission of the complaint.
Schiff, the leader of the impeachment inquiry and trial, defended Atkinson on Twitter.
“Actually, he abided by the law and the complaint was spot on,” Schiff wrote on Twitter. “Someone who follows the law and their conscience is no disgrace.”
Republicans have long suggested that Atkinson’s unreleased testimony hurt the Democrats’ case for impeachment.
“Of course Adam Schiff is complaining about ICIG Atkinson being fired. He was Schiff’s key impeachment enabler,” Rep. Jim Jorden (R-Ohio) wrote on Twitter, pointing out that Atkinson allegedly “let the whistleblower lie about meeting with Schiff’s staff” and “didn’t disclose the fact that the [whistleblower] worked for [Joe] Biden.”
“Schiff still won’t release Atkinson’s transcript!” Jordan added.
During his July 25 call with Zelensky, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to “look into” the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. Shortly before his forced ouster, Shokin’s office seized the assets of Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of Ukrainian gas giant Burisma. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, held a paid position on the board of Burisma at the time of Shokin’s firing. In sworn testimony, Shokin said that he was fired under pressure from Joe Biden because Shokin’s office was going after Burisma.
Joe Biden has publicly bragged about forcing Shokin’s ouster by withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine. The Biden’s have denied any wrongdoing. The younger Biden eventually stepped down from the board of Burisma.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.
Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov

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Joe Rogan Would ‘Rather Vote For Trump Than Biden’ After Endorsing Sanders

Podcast host and comedian Joe Rogan has said he would rather vote for Donald Trump than Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, should the former vice-president become the Democratic nominee.
Speaking on April 3 with guest Eric Weinstein, a mathematician, economist, and managing director of Thiel Capital, Rogan said he “could not” vote for Biden, adding that the Democratic Party has “essentially made us all morons.”
Rogan was responding to Weinstein, who said, “I think that in general, people, when they are given no choice at all express themselves moronically. I want a choice of an actual president that’s viable. I don’t have one. Now you’re going to ask me, ‘Which of the non-viable people do you like best?’” The economist added, “I can’t vote for [Biden]. I can’t vote for Trump.”
“I can’t vote for [Biden],” Rogan said. “I’d rather vote for Trump than him. I don’t think [Biden] can handle anything. You’re relying entirely on his cabinet. If you want to talk about an individual leader who can communicate, he can’t do that. And we don’t even know what the [expletive] he’ll be like after a year in office.”
Rogan, who previously endorsed Biden’s primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), went on to speak about Trump’s ability to handle the pressure that comes with being president of the United States, noting that the role appeared to take a visible toll on previous Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“The pressure of being the president of the United States is something that no one has ever prepared for. The only one who seems to be fine with it is Trump, oddly enough. He doesn’t seem to be aging at all, or in any sort of decline. Obama, almost immediately, started looking older. George W, almost immediately, started looking older,” Rogan added.
Speaking of Biden, Rogan noted that the former vice president can “barely talk,” and “forgets what he is saying halfway in the conversation,” adding that he is “showing actual real deterioration, he is not bouncing back.”
Rogan had previously said that he would “probably vote” for Sanders back in January, noting that the Vermont Senator has been “insanely consistent his entire life.”
“I think I’ll probably vote for Bernie. Him, as a human being, when I was hanging out with him, I believe in him, I like him, I like him a lot,” he told New York Times columnist Bari Weiss in a podcast, which was later retweeted by Sanders.
“He’s basically been saying the same thing, been for the same thing his whole life. And that in and of itself is a very powerful structure to operate from,” Rogan added.
As of April 5, Biden is on track to win the nomination, securing 1,217 of the 1,991 delegates needed in the primaries held up to this point. His socialist rival, Sanders, has 914 delegates. According to the Washington Post, aides and allies of Sanders have advised him to step down from the presidential race after losing hope in his campaign.
The next primary is Wisconsin on Tuesday, which polls predict Biden will win.

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Trump Appreciates Biden’s Support of China Travel Ban

President Donald Trump said he appreciates former Vice President Joe Biden’s statement of support on a travel ban the president announced on Jan. 31.
Trump banned some travel from China, where the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, emerged last year. It was one of the first travel bans in the world aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
“He admitted that I’m right,” Trump said of Biden, who is currently leading the Democratic presidential contest. “He agreed that I was correct when I stopped people from China coming to our country early, very early.”
“I appreciate the fact that he did because I was called xenophobic, racist, I was called many things when I did that,” the president added.
Trump was speaking at the White House in Washington at the daily virus briefing.
Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement on Friday that Biden supports Trump’s travel ban.
“Joe Biden supports travel bans that are guided by medical experts, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy,” she told CNN. “Science supported this ban, therefore he did too.”
Biden repeatedly called Trump xenophobic and hysterical, but Bedingfield said the references were to “Trump’s long record of scapegoating others at a time when the virus was emerging from China,” not the ban.

A man wearing a protective suit rides a bicycle on a street in Wuhan, China on April 1, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)
A day after Trump announced the restrictions, Biden’s official Twitter account sent a statement: “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science—not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.”
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Trump, said that Biden waiting two months to support the ban was “not leadership” but “bad judgment.”
A number of experts criticized Trump’s decision to ban some travel from China.
“From a public health perspective, there is limited effectiveness. And then there are a host of other reasons why they can actually be counterproductive,” Catherine Worsnop, who studies international cooperation during global health emergencies at the University of Maryland, told STAT News at the time.
Another expert called it more a political or emotional move.
Others have since praised the restrictions.
“The President’s early and decisive actions, including travel restrictions, have succeeded in buying us incredibly valuable time,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar told reporters in February.
“One of the things we did right was very early cut off travel from China to the United States,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC last month.
Trump said he “took a lot of heat, even from China,” when he announced the ban, but has called it possibly the biggest decision he’s made.
Biden, during the press conference on Saturday, took a shot at Trump, writing on Twitter: “Donald Trump is not responsible for the coronavirus, but he is responsible for failing to prepare our nation to respond to it.”
Asked to respond, the president told reporters: “He didn’t write that. That was done by a Democratic operative. He doesn’t write. He’s probably not even watching right now. And if he is, he doesn’t understand what he’s watching.”
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Trump Campaign Donates Meals to Hospitals Amidst CCP Virus Pandemic

The Trump campaign has been anonymously donating food to hospitals across the country to feed doctors, nurses, and first responders who are fighting against the CCP Virus, according to an exclusive from Fox News.
As indicated, since March 26, members of President Trump’s reelection campaign have been calling various local restaurants placing large food orders for delivery to hospitals in New York, New Jersey, Washington State, as well as Michigan—all anonymously.
This wasn’t discovered until after a source confirmed it with Fox News.
“They’re doing it as a donor who cares. So nothing is tied to it … We’re just trying to, you know, show a thank you,” the source said.
According to the source, the campaign started ordering and donating the meals to medical staff to support both the medical officials fighting on the front lines against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, but also to support the local restaurants. They have spent over tens of thousands of dollars on the effort so far.
Fox News reported that the campaign plans to expand the effort in the next upcoming weeks.
One of the restaurants that received a particularly large order was Giovanni’s Italian Deli in Secaucus, New Jersey, for delivery to the Hudson Regional Hospital, the news outlet reported.
The employee of Giovanni’s Italian Deli told Fox News that when the order was called in, the caller asked for the meals to be donated to the doctors and nurses. The anonymous caller, whom the employee said left only a first name, put in an order for various items, such as 40 platters of pasta, salads, and sandwiches.
Similarly, an individual also called Antonio’s Trattoria, a restaurant in the Bronx in New York, and put in 100 individual orders to be delivered to the Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx area.
“It was 20 penne vodkas, 20 pastas with tomato sauce, 30 chicken parmesan, and 30 house salads with grilled chicken,” the manager at the Antonio’s Trattoria told Fox News in an interview. According to the manager, the individual only provided his first name and said he wanted to remain anonymous.
The source also said that the campaign also put in orders from other restaurants such as Nick’s Grill in Kirkland, Washington, Chit Chat Diner in Morristown, New Jersey, and Turning Point in Long Branch, New Jersey, among other restaurants in the areas stated above.
Chit Chat Diner posted to their Instagram regarding the large order of food for delivery to the medical staff at Hackensack Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, and wrote, “An anonymous donation providing lunch to some hardworking staff at Hackensack Hospital this afternoon. We are so grateful.”
From NTD News

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Trump Tabs White House Lawyer for Virus Inspector General, Pelosi Opposes Nomination

President Donald Trump named a White House lawyer as inspector general for hundreds of billions of dollars approved by Congress for CCP virus relief, a selection opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
One of three oversight mechanisms established in the $2.2 trillion bill Trump signed last week after it passed Congress was a special inspector general to oversee $500 billion in funds that will be doled out by the Treasury Department to small businesses and corporations.
The White House announced on Friday that Trump selected Brian Miller, special assistant to the president and senior associate counsel in the White House Counsel’s office, to serve in the position.
Miller previously served as an independent corporate monitor and an expert witness and has practiced law in ethics and compliance, government contracts, internal investigations, white collar, and suspension and debarment, according to the White House. He was the inspector general for the General Services Administration for nearly a decade after being confirmed by the Senate.
A section of the stimulus bill establishes a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) and requires the special inspector general to report to Congress immediately when any government agencies decline to provide information to him. In a statement released after signing the bill last month, Trump said: “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required” by federal law.
Trump’s declaration sparked a letter from Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who on Friday called for the president to comply with all of the oversight requirements.
“As you work to implement COVID-19 legislation, we ask that you provide Congress a detailed plan on how the government plans to execute these funds and what accountability measures are being put in place to ensure our taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” they wrote. “We expect that the Special Inspector General will fulfill its statutory responsibilities, and look forward to working with your administration to ensure robust oversight of taxpayer dollars.”

Firefighters remove their personal protective equipment after responding to a medical call amid the CCP virus outbreak in Chelsea, Massachusetts on April 3, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
In a statement Saturday, Pelosi voiced her concern about the nomination of Miller.
“The Inspector General providing oversight of the federal response of this historic relief package for workers and families must be independent from politics. The President’s nomination of one of his own lawyers clearly fails that test,” she said.
The move makes the need for a bipartisan House committee that will oversee the dispersal of funds “even more urgent,” according to Pelosi.
The California Democrat this week announced the creation of the panel, which will be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). The oversight committee, another mechanism mandated in the bill, will make sure funds “are spent wisely and effectively,” Pelosi told reporters in a conference call.
Miller must be confirmed by the Senate, which Republicans hold with a 53-47 majority.
The third oversight mechanism gives the Pentagon’s top watchdog oversight responsibilities.
Glenn Fine, the acting Inspector General for the Pentagon, was in recent days appointed to chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).
Simon Veazey contributed to this report.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Trump Eyes More Relief Funds for Small Businesses Hit by COVID-19

Seeking to further shore up America’s beleaguered small businesses amid the pandemic, President Donald Trump said Saturday he would consider increasing relief funds if they run out.
“I will immediately ask Congress for more money to support small businesses under the #PPPloan if the allocated money runs out,” Trump said in a tweet, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program that is part of the $2.2 trillion relief bill and put in place to help small firms keep workers and pay bills during the pandemic.
It will give businesses low-interest loans of about 2.5 times their average monthly payroll. The loans will be fully or partially forgiven if businesses show that the money was used to retain or rehire employees and pay some overhead expenses through June 30.
“Nearly $350 billion in loans will be available to small businesses including sole proprietors. These loans are up to 100 percent forgivable as long as employers keep paying their workers,” Trump said at an April 2 briefing, a day ahead of the program launch.
“Got to take care of your workers,” Trump added.

A worker sits in an empty gift shop in New York City’s Chinatown on Feb. 13, 2020. The Department of Small Business Services in New York reported at the time that revenues were already down by 40 percent in Chinatown due to CCP virus concerns. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
But the relief scheme got off to a rocky start Friday, as hundreds of thousands tried to apply for desperately needed loans. Many small business owners ran into bureaucratic or technical roadblocks.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who played a pivotal role in shaping the relief package, said in a tweet Friday that over $1.8 billion has already been allocated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and that big banks, too, were moving ahead with processing funds.
Bank of America alone said 75,000 small businesses had applied for $7 billion in loans.
Once the bank handles the application, it goes to the SBA, which said Friday afternoon that it had approved more than 12,460 loans valued at $3.9 billion. But it was unclear how much if any money had actually been sent to the businesses.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks with reporters outside White House in Washington, on March 13, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Some businesses found their bank wasn’t yet prepared to accept applications, and when they tried another bank, they were told that only established customers were being accepted.
“We know there will be challenges in the process,” said SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza at an April 2 briefing. “Our most important objective is to allow small businesses to keep their employees on board, and keep their businesses viable through this unprecedented disruption.”
Time will tell whether disbursement will take place efficiently enough to help businesses stave off collapse.
“This administration believes wholeheartedly that if you are a small business, you are a critical part of the economic fabric of this country and your viability is critical to the economic wellbeing of your employees,” Carranza said.
Other efforts are underway to support America’s small businesses amid the outbreak of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The Federal Reserve said on March 23 it would soon announce its “Main Street Business Lending Program,” which it said would complement the SBA’s efforts to keep small businesses alive.
Details of the Fed’s program remain unclear, but Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM, a consultancy focused on middle-market businesses in Chicago, told Inc. that he expects the program will get at least $100 billion in initial funding and could supply up to $1 trillion in new loans for midsize companies.
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren told Bloomberg on April 1 the roll-out of the main street lending program may still be “another couple” of weeks away.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s President and CEO Eric S. Rosengren speaks at a conference in New York, on April 17, 2013. (Reuters/Keith Bedford/File Photo)
“It’s a complicated facility to appropriately scope,” he told the outlet in an interview. “We’re doing these facilities as fast as we can, and like every organization we’re dealing with a lot of people that are working remotely from home.”
In the text of remarks Rosengren delivered at an online event April 1 hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, he said there was more to be done to stem the fallout from the pandemic.
“We must continue to adapt as the crisis proceeds, with constant attention to the plight of workers who have been or will be laid off,” he said.
“We need to support the workers who keep our organizations and those we rely on (like grocery stores, shipping networks, and of course health care) up and running. And we must tide over workers and businesses that see demand dry up for a while,” Rosengren said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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House Conservatives Urges Trump Not to Rush Fourth CCP Virus Relief Package

House Republican leaders are cautioning President Donald Trump against rushing a fourth CCP virus relief package, warning that the hasty spending could have long-term impact on the country’s debt.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.) sent a letter to the president on Friday urging him to reject requests for any additional relief packages, arguing that another bill would be premature since the recently passed bill, the CARES Act, has not yet fully taken effect.
“Most of the relief funding from Phase 2 and Phase 3 has not even been distributed yet. We advise caution in considering an additional round of spending outside of the regular process before we have seen the results of the previous three rounds of spending,” the lawmakers wrote. The letter was also signed by 20 other Republican lawmakers.
Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package last month that is slated to provide $1,200 for most Americans and $500 for every child, along with a number of measures to support small businesses and companies. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and businesses have been forced to close as states ordered all nonessential businesses to close to slow the spread of the CCP virus.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and top Democrats have called for a fourth relief package in response to the pandemic that would include a bipartisan infrastructure deal. The president welcomed the infrastructure proposal in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
But during an interview with CNBC on Friday, Pelosi scaled back on her ambitions on what the next bill would entail, saying that an infrastructure deal that includes things like clean water and more broadband “may have to be for a bill beyond this.” Instead, she said the next bill would expand on the previous one while adding that she would like to see more direct payments to American working families.
In a statement released also on Friday, Pelosi said Congress “must work on an infrastructure package for recovery that addresses some of the critical impacts and vulnerabilities in America that have been laid bare by the coronavirus,” but did not specify whether this would be included in the next bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also signaled that he supports a fourth relief package, saying that it will focus on healthcare.
“[It] should be more a targeted response to what we got wrong and what we didn’t do enough for—and at the top of the list there would have to be the health care part of it,” he told The Associated Press, confirming there will be another measure.
House Republicans have expressed less enthusiasm about spending more money. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was wary about the idea of a fourth bill when interviewed by Fox News. He said he would like to see how the $2.2 trillion package turns out before making moves on the next one.
In the letter on Friday, the lawmakers expressed confidence that the country would “win the war” against the pandemic but added that the nation may not win its war against the mounting debt.
“Even before the CARES Act was signed into law, the national debt stood at $23.6 trillion, which equates to nearly $73,000 for every citizen—man, woman, and child,” they wrote. “Now we will add at least $2 trillion to this already unsustainable sum. Every dollar we add to the debt today makes it increasingly less likely that we will be able to provide even the basic services our citizens have come to expect in the decades to come.”
“While each of us hold differing opinions about whether the CARES Act was warranted to meet an unprecedented crisis, we are united in the belief that going forward the U.S. simply cannot afford any more deficit spending of this magnitude.”
They said that if further relief packages are necessary, they should only contain measures to “restore and grow the U.S. economy with as little long-term government intervention as possible.”
“Prosperity will return to America, just as it has after every other crisis in our nation’s past. And we fully expect prosperity to return more quickly this time, Mr. President–due in large measure to your leadership. In the meantime, we must ensure that we do not compromise the future of our children and grandchildren or alter the free-market values that have made us the envy of the world,” they added.
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Trump Confident General Election Will Go as Scheduled, Opposes Proposed Wisconsin Changes

The 2020 presidential election will be held as scheduled, according to President Donald Trump.
“The general election will happen on November 3rd,” Trump told reporters Friday night at the White House.
Trump is up for reelection. The only two Democratic presidential candidates left in the field are former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), though there have been rumblings about a contested convention leading to a different nominee to challenge the president.
Voters in presidential election years choose who they want for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives alongside voting for commander-in-chief candidates.
Trump said efforts to delay primary elections in Wisconsin appeared to stem from a Republican state Supreme Court candidate, Dan Kelly, who received an endorsement from the president.
“I just endorsed him today and it was a very strong endorsement. His polls—he’s gone very high up. And all of a sudden, the governor comes out—the Democrat governor, by the way—comes out and says, ‘Oh, we’re going to move this election,’” Trump said.
The president said he opposes mail-in voting because he supports people only voting after showing identification.
“It shouldn’t be mail-in voting. It should be: You go to a booth and you proudly display yourself,” he said. “And you should have voter ID, because when you have voter ID, that’s the real deal.”
Biden has also said he supports the election moving forward as planned while Sanders has called for a delay, along with Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Nov. 4, 2018. (Nick Oxford/File Photo/Reuters)
Wisconsin
Evers, a Democrat, signed an executive order on Friday calling a meeting of the state Legislature as he tries to postpone the state’s primary election, which is currently slated to take place on April 7.
Evers wants the legislation passed allowing the election to take place entirely through mail-in voting. The bill should also mandate the sending of a ballot to every registered voter who has not already requested one by May 19, and extend the time for those ballots to be received to May 26, his office said.
“Folks, I can’t move this election or change the rules on my own. My hands are tied,” Evers said in a video posted to Facebook. “And that’s why I spoke to legislative leaders about this weeks ago. I even publicly called upon them to act. They have made it clear they are unwilling to make changes.”
Voters going to polling locations would create “a very unnecessary public health risk,” Evers said.
U.S. District Judge William Conley, an appointee of President Barack Obama, ruled this week that he couldn’t delay the election.
“The only role of a federal district court is to take steps that help avoid the impingement on citizens’ rights to exercise their voting franchise as protected by the United States Constitution and federal statutes,” he wrote.
Conley, who ordered absentee voting extended to April 13, said during oral arguments that Wisconsin’s Legislature and Evers “are not willing to step up and say there’s a public health crisis and make it absolutely clear that we should not be allowing poll workers and voters to congregate on April 7,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

A sign directs voters towards a polling place near the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin on Nov. 6, 2018. (Nick Oxford/File Photo/Reuters)
Republican Party Opposes Delay
The Wisconsin Democratic Party supports pushing the primary back, while the state Republican Party, which holds majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, does not.
Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, both Republicans, accused Evers of changing his mind in recent weeks.
“If the governor had legitimate concerns, we could have come to a bipartisan solution weeks ago. This discussion would have happened long before today. The only bipartisan discussion we’ve had was to ensure the election would continue safely and to maximize the opportunity to vote absentee,” they said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, it’s this type of feckless leadership Wisconsin has come to expect of the governor in the face of this crisis. Instead of remaining strong to ensure our representative democracy continues, he caves under political pressures from national liberal special interest groups.”
“Our Republic must continue to function, and the many local government positions on the ballot must be filled so that municipalities can swiftly respond to the crisis at hand. We continue to support what Governor Evers has supported for weeks: the election should continue as planned on Tuesday,” they added.
Biden said in a virtual press conference this week that he thinks the state can still hold the election but that it is up to the governor and state officials. Sanders said in a statement that “People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote, which is why 15 states are now following the advice of public health experts and delaying their elections.”
Wisconsin should move entirely to voting by mail, the senator said.
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Trump Won’t be Wearing Mask Despite New Recommendations

President Donald Trump said he won’t follow new recommendations from federal officials for wearing masks, emphasizing that wearing a mask is up to each person.
“With the masks, it’s going to be, really, a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s OK,” Trump said at a press conference in Washington on Friday night, where officials announced the guidelines.
“It may be good. Probably will. They’re making a recommendation. It’s only a recommendation. It’s voluntary,” he added.
A slew of other countries—and some states and cities—recommended or mandated the use of masks when people leave their homes before the federal advisory. Federal officials cited seven studies published in recent weeks showing people infected with the the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, but who aren’t showing symptoms can transmit the virus to others.
The White House said earlier Friday that anyone expected to be near Trump or Vice President Mike Pence will be given a rapid test that can detect the virus even in people who aren’t showing symptoms.
The new recommendations say people should wear “cloth face coverings” in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to main, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Officials are asking Americans to not use surgical masks or N95 respirators in a bid to reserve them for frontline workers such as doctors and police officers.

A healthcare worker arrives at Mount Sinai Hospital during the CCP virus outbreak, in New York City on April 3, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)
Why Trump Won’t Wear One
Pressed on why he won’t wear a mask, Trump said he doesn’t want to and noted the federal advisory is a recommendation as opposed to mandated.
He tried imagining himself wearing a mask while sitting in the Oval Office behind the desk greeting world leaders.
“I don’t know. Somehow, I don’t see it for myself,” he said. “I just don’t. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but this will pass and hopefully it’ll pass very quickly.”
The recommendation is simple and well-designated, the president, adding, “Most people can just make something out of a certain material.”
Trump was asked again why he wouldn’t be wearing a mask and said the guidelines are not mandatory.
“I just don’t choose to,” he said. “Basically, it’s a voluntary thing.”
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South Dakota State Lawmaker Bob Glanzer Dies of CCP Virus

Bob Glanzer, a longtime South Dakota lawmaker, died on Friday from COVID-19.
COVID-19 is caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Glanzer, 75, was being treated in an intensive care unit at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls before his death at approximately 8 p.m.
“Our dad, grandpa, uncle, husband, and friend went to heaven,” son Tom Glanzer wrote on Facebook.
He said the staff at Avera were amazing and took good care of Glanzer and his family.
“Their work was even more appreciated during this truly trying time in our world. They were able to comfort us without being next to us and that is human care on the highest level,” Tom Glanzer said.
No family members were with Glanzer when he died because of concerns about the virus, his son told Keloland News.
Bob Glanzer’s wife, Penny, was also diagnosed with COVID-19 but has since been cleared by the state Department of Health, Tom Glanzer said.
South Dakota House Majority Leader Lee Qualm said that Glanzer was “a true statesman, an amazing man of God and a great asset to the SD House of Representatives.”

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (red) heavily infected with CCP virus particles (yellow), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland, published on April 2, 2020. (NIAID)
“He will be greatly missed!” Qualm said in a statement.
South Dakota only had two COVID-19 deaths before Glanzer passed away.
The state has 187 people who tested positive for the virus but 69 of those have since recovered, according to the state Department of Health. Seventeen patients remain hospitalized.
Another 4,593 people have tested negative for the virus while test results for three people are pending.
South Dakota is one of around seven states that has not issued a stay at home order mandating that residents not leave home unless they’re taking essential trips, such as ones for obtaining groceries or medicine.

South Dakota Governor-elect Kristi Noem (R) sits sits next to U.S. President Donald Trump and Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis (L) at the White House in Washington on Dec. 13, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“This has been a constant balance and analysis that we have been looking at and analyzing is: how long can people change their way of life, how long can they stay at home, how long can children stay out of school, how long before we don’t have any businesses left to employ people and put food on their table, how long can we keep people out of South Dakota or not let any South Dakotans leave the state,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem told reporters on Friday.
“If I put all of those measures into place today I just want people to know I am being really honest and candid with you, is that you would have to sustain that activity, and shelter at home, and not leave, and not have our businesses open, and our borders closed until October.”
Noem has previously said that “people themselves are primarily responsible for their safety.”
Noem declared a state of emergency on March 13, three days after the detection of the first case, and cancelled some events while ordering state employees to work from home when possible. She also issued an executive order on March 23 asking state residents to stay home to reduce exposure to the virus, not gather in groups of 10 or more, and follow social distancing guidelines such as remaining at least 6 feet from others when out in public.
Social distancing measures and other measures taken in recent weeks have cut the projected peak hospitalizations from something “far beyond our capacity” to 5,000, Noem told reporters on Friday. Approximately 1,300 ventilators will be needed at the peak, according to models, which show the peak will not arrive until the middle of June.
Between 30 and 70 percent of South Dakotans will be infected with the virus, according to the projections. The state, with a population of some 882,000, currently has one of the smallest case and death counts in the United States.
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Trump Fires Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson

President Donald Trump has fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community (ICIG) who handled the anonymous whistleblower complaint that triggered the House Democratic-led impeachment effort against the president.
In a letter to the Senate intelligence committee on Friday, Trump said that he would remove Atkinson from office “effective 30 days from today.”
“It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Federal programs and activities,” Trump wrote.
“The Inspectors General have a critical role in the achievement of these goals,” he continued.
“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General.”
“That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” Trump said in the letter, referring to Atkinson.

President Donald Trump in the press briefing room with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on April 3, 2020. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Trump said he will later nominate another individual to the position.
Atkinson received a complaint from a mysterious whistleblower in August 2019 regarding Trump’s July 25, 2019, telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate claims that a server containing digital copies of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email were being held by unknown person(s) in Ukraine. The whistleblower wasn’t a firsthand witness to the call.
Trump nominated Atkinson, a career government employee, for the ICIG position in November 2017.
“Mr. Atkinson has served as an Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General (AAG) of the National Security Division (NSD) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) since 2016,” the White House said in announcing Atkinson’s nomination.
More to come.

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CDC Recommends Using Face Coverings in Public Setting, Especially In CCP Virus Hot Zones

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday recommended that Americans should start to wear cloth face coverings in public settings.
The CDC’s suggestions come after new evidence showed that patients with COVID-19—the disease caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus—could spread the virus before showing any symptoms.
The agency urged people to use the cloth face coverings in places where social distancing measures are challenging to maintain, including grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
However, the CDC emphasized people should still follow the 6-feet rule of social distancing.
“It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus,” the agency said in a statement. “CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”
The cloth face coverings can be household items or products made from home with everyday materials.
However, the CDC suggested that people beside caregivers should not use surgical masks or N-95 respirators.
“Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders,” CDC stated.
President announced the new CDC advisory earlier the day during the White House CCP Virus Task Force press briefing.
“CDC is announcing additional steps the American can take to defend against the transmission of the virus,” he said. “In light of these studies, the CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face coverings as an additional voluntary public health measure.”
He said that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood based on recent studies.
In a report published by CDC on April 1, researchers looked at 243 cases in Singapore from January through March. They identified seven clusters of cases where the “most likely explanation” for the secondary cases of infection was “presymptomatic transmission.”
The CDC defined presymptomatic transmission as “the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from an infected person (source patient) to a secondary patient before the source patient developed symptoms.”
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, there are over one million confirmed cases around the world as of Friday afternoon, with over two hundred five thousand of them in the United States.
The number is considered to be highly underestimated because of the underreporting of cases from mainland China.
Homemade Masks
The Pennsylvania Department of Health posted guidance (pdf) on “homemade masks” on its website.
“Homemade masks made out of fabric and cloth are not considered” personal protective equipment, according to the website.

A shopper and cashier both wear masks and gloves and the cashier also has on a plastic visor at the checkout station at Pat’s Farms grocery store in Merrick, New York, on March 31, 2020. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
But homemade masks such as a scarf or bandana can limit the spread of droplets containing the CCP virus.
“When a homemade mask can’t be acquired, a scarf or bandana can be utilized. By implementing community use of these homemade fabric or cloth masks, everyone will have a higher degree of protection from this virus,” the department said.
Wearing such a mask, the department said, might be helpful while shopping at essential businesses, visiting a doctor or hospital, using public transportation, interacting with people at businesses, or when feeling sick.
“Because homemade masks protect everyone else from the droplets created by the wearer, it is essential that as many people as possible wear these masks when leaving their homes.
“This helps prevent those who may be infectious but are only mildly symptomatic or not symptomatic from spreading the virus to others in the community. Everyone should remember the phrase ‘my mask protects you, your mask protects me,’” it said.
There are also online tutorials for making face masks on YouTube and on other websites. Online retailers, including Etsy, are selling cloth masks.
Zachary Stieber and Jack Phillips contributed to the report.

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US Will Cover COVID-19 Treatment for Uninsured Americans

President Donald Trump announced on April 3 that the government will pay for the medical treatment of COVID-19 for uninsured Americans using funds from the stimulus package approved by Congress last month.
“This should alleviate any concern uninsured Americans may have about seeking the coronavirus treatment,” Trump said during a press briefing on April 3, adding that the move is “very much in the favor of our great people.”
Trump made the announcement as the United States experienced the worst day yet of the pandemic. New York state reported the highest daily death toll from COVID-19 for April 2, while other parts of the country confirmed an alarming number of cases.
Trump signed the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history on March 27, unlocking $2.2 trillion in funds to battle the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus, and to support American workers and businesses as millions of people stay at home to help stop the spread of the disease.
Administration officials planned to fund the treatment with money from the $100 billion allocated to hospitals as part of the stimulus bill.
Vice President Mike Pence revealed that the administration is working on a plan to cover the uninsured on April 2.
“The president has made it clear: we don’t want any American to worry about the cost of getting a test or the cost of getting treatment,” Pence, the White House Coronavirus Task Force head, told reporters on Thursday night.
There are roughly 30 million Americans who do not have health insurance, Pence said.
A number of private insurance companies, including Blue Cross, Signa, Humana, and Anthem, have waived copays for the treatment of COVID-19.
“Copays, for them to do that, it’s a big statement,” Trump said.
Coverage under Medicaid and Medicare has also been expanded to include CCP virus testing and treatment as well as telehealth services. The Trump administration has also slashed regulations to give hospitals more flexibility to address the pandemic.
The United States had more than 273,000 cases of COVID-19 as of 6:40 p.m. on April 3, according to data by Johns Hopkins. The disease has claimed the lives 7,077 people across the nation.
The federal government is racing to purchase and procure essential supplies and equipment, like face masks, medical gowns, and ventilators as hospitals in hot spots around the country project shortages.
Trump said he would invoke the Defense Production Act to prohibit the export of these items. The administration had earlier prohibited the hoarding of masks and other items.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.
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Judge Issues Scathing Order After Watchdog Flags Rampant Flaws in FBI Surveillance

The lead judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reprimanded the FBI over widespread flaws in surveillance applications uncovered by the Justice Department inspector general.
In an order issued on April 3, Judge James Boasberg directed the FBI to turn over the names of the targets in the 29 applications audited by the inspector general.
The inspector general’s audit, the results of which were released in a memo to the FBI on March 30, found that every one of the 29 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications reviewed had a missing or inadequate Woods File—a group of records that substantiate the facts the bureau asserts in applications to the court.
The inspector general concluded that it was not confident that the FBI’s procedures were adequate in ensuring the bureau followed its own policy that FISA applications have to be “scrupulously accurate.”
“It would be an understatement to note that such lack of confidence appears well founded,” Boasberg wrote.
In addition to turning over the names and docket numbers for the 29 FISA applications, the judge asked the government to assess whether any of the applications contained “material misstatements and omissions,” and whether these flaws render the court’s surveillance orders invalid. The judge is also asking the bureau to identify the four applications for which a Woods File was missing entirely.
Boasberg gave the bureau until June 15 to comply.
The review by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) was prompted by the damning findings of its inquiry into the FISA applications the FBI obtained to spy on Trump-campaign associate Carter Page. That review turned up 17 significant errors and omissions, including multiple instances in which the FBI withheld exculpatory information from the court.

Carter Page, petroleum industry consultant and former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential election campaign, in Washington on May 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
The findings in the Page case led the court to order the FBI to show why the court should trust any of its future surveillance applications. The bureau has since embarked on a list of reforms. The findings of pervasive flaws beyond the Page case underline the need for the court to supervise the bureau’s efforts, the order states.
“The OIG Memorandum provides further reason for systemic concern. It thereby reinforces the need for the Court to monitor the ongoing efforts of the FBI and DOJ to ensure that, going forward, FBI applications present accurate and complete facts,” Boasberg wrote.
The FBI acknowledged the receipt of the order.
“Maintaining the trust and confidence of the Court is paramount to the FBI and we are continuing to implement the 40-plus corrective actions ordered by [FBI] Director [Christopher] Wray in December 2019,” the bureau said in a statement.
“Although the applications reviewed by the IG in this audit predate the announcement of these corrective actions, the FBI understands the Court’s desire to obtain information related to the applications.”
The surveillance of Page prompted President Donald Trump and his allies to assert that the Obama-era FBI spied on the Trump campaign in 2016 for political gain. However, the inspector general’s inquiry did not find evidence that political motivations factored into the decision to surveil Page.
An unverified dossier of opposition research on Trump compiled by a former foreign spy played a crucial role in the FBI’s decision to seek a warrant to spy on Carter Page. That dossier was funded through a law firm by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The applications used for a warrant to surveil Carter Page cast him as an agent of Russia, despite the FBI being in possession of evidence to the contrary that wasn’t included in the applications. Notably, the FBI was advised by the CIA that he was working with the agency and had regularly reported on his contacts with Russians.
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3M Warns Trump That Halting Mask Exports Would Reduce US Supply

Manufacturing giant 3M, which produces medical equipment, warned Friday that the White House’s request for the firm to stop exporting respirator masks could make the gear less available in the United States.
The Minnesota-based company—the maker of Scotch tape, Post-It Notes, as well as protective masks—issued a statement about a day after President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force 3M to produce more respirator masks for healthcare workers during the battle against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Under the act, Trump requested 3M to stop exporting respirators to Canada and Latin America, according to the firm.
The company said the move would present “significant humanitarian implications” in Canada and Latin America because 3M is a crucial supplier to those countries. Other countries will likely do the same thing, which could impact supply chains, it argued.
“If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease,” 3M wrote in a statement Friday. “That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.”

An N95 mask at the lab from which the U.S. government has ordered 3 million masks in response to the country’s CCP virus outbreak, in Maplewood, Minnesota, on March 4, 2020. (Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters)
“We also continue to act on reports of price gouging and unauthorized reselling related to 3M respirators. This activity is unethical and illegal. We are working with the U.S. Attorney General and attorneys general of every state, making it clear that 3M has not and will not raise prices for respirators and offering our assistance in the fight,” according to the 3M statement.
On Thursday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to obtain more N95 respirators “after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” according to his post on Twitter, without elaborating. Healthcare professionals around the United States have struggled to try and obtain the masks in recent days as demand has skyrocketed.
“Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing—will have a big price to pay!” he wrote.
Trump’s executive order directing 3M to produce more masks authorizes the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain any number of N95 masks, according to the text of the order.
Earlier this week, 3M announced it has boosted production of N95 masks to 100 million for the month, which would include 35 million masks per month in the United States.
Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, are reportedly going to soon recommend the general public to wear face masks in public.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has also advised New York City residents to cover their faces before leaving their homes, while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it “couldn’t hurt” to wear masks.
Officials in the town of Laredo, Texas said that starting on Thursday, people have to wear a mask or some form of coverage in public or they will receive a $1,000 fine.

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Economy Sheds 700,000 Jobs by Mid-March Amid CCP Virus Epidemic

The American economy has lost more than 700,000 jobs in the first weeks of government efforts to slow the spread of the CCP virus. The hospitality industry was hit the hardest, but virtually no sector escaped the contraction, data released April 3 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows.
One after another, governors across the country issued shutdown orders, closing bars, theaters, and all “non-essential” businesses.
The CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan around November 2019 and was allowed to spread across China and the world due to a coverup and mismanagement by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The United States has now more than 240,000 cases and nearly 5,000 dead.
The BLS data doesn’t capture the full brunt of the shutdown, as it’s based on a survey conducted between March 8 and March 14, before many of the mitigation measures were adopted.
Claims for unemployment benefits soared to a record high of more than 6.6 million for the week ending March 28.
Oxford Economics is predicting payrolls could plunge by at least 20 million jobs in April, which would blow away the record 800,000 tumble in March 2009.
The unemployment rate increased to 4.4 percent in March, up from 3.5 percent the month before. But this number is inaccurate, the BLS cautioned, due to misclassification of some workers laid off during the shutdown. The real rate would be close to 5.4 percent, the bureau said.
A majority of the job losses, nearly 420,000, were in the restaurant sector, which was largely only allowed to provide takeout. Some restaurants have adapted by switching to grocery sales, and with encouraging results. Some states have lifted regulations to allow restaurants to sell as retail the items they buy wholesale and some have allowed restaurants to sell alcohol with takeout orders.
The counter-virus measures have brought to an end a historic 113 straight months of employment growth.
The only areas that saw some job growth were some merchandise stores (nearly 9,000), warehousing (over 8,000), outpatient care centers (over 5,000), and a few others. The federal government—other than the U.S. Postal Service, which lost jobs—added nearly 20,000 jobs.
President Donald Trump has tried to maintain some level of optimism in the markets, saying the economy will come “roaring back” once the virus restrictions are lifted. The administration has recommended people to follow “social distancing” rules until April 31. It has also worked with Congress to pass a $2.3 trillion relief package that will provide cash to individual Americans, loans to small businesses, and bailouts for affected industries, such as the airline industry.
Trump said he wants another package that would provide $2 trillion for infrastructure.
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Trump Invokes Defense Production Act for More Companies, Including 3M

The Trump administration said it has invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) with respect to multiple companies to step up production of equipment amid the COVID-19 supply crunch.
The separate DPA actions relate to ventilators and masks.
“Today, I have issued an order under the Defense Production Act to more fully ensure that domestic manufacturers can produce ventilators needed to save American lives,” Trump wrote in a statement issued by the White House on April 2.
The president said the order would save lives “by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators,” key devices in the fight against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus as they help keep seriously ill patients alive by delivering oxygen to the lungs.

President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on COVID-19 in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on March 31, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump specified a number of domestic manufacturers, including General Electric, Hill-Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips, and Vyaire Medical, adding that the order would help companies obtain the supplies they need to build ventilators.
“I am grateful to these and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up their production of ventilators during this difficult time,” the president said in the statement, adding the devices were needed “to defeat the virus.”
Separately, the president singled out 3M in an April 2 memorandum ordering the Secretary of Homeland Security to “use any and all authority available under the Act to acquire, from any appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of 3M Company, the number of N95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate.”

A pharmacy worker sells N95 face masks in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Feb. 27, 2020. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)
American companies, including 3M, have stepped up production to around 50 million masks per month in the United States, far short of the estimated 300 million per month needed to fight the outbreak, according to The Wall Street Journal.
At a White House briefing on the CCP virus pandemic earlier on Thursday, Trump announced he had signed a DPA order for 3M to produce face masks. “Hopefully they’ll be able to do what they are supposed to do,” he said.
Later in the day, Trump wrote a tweet saying, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks,” in an apparent reference to reports that 3M had been exporting many of its masks to other countries instead of reserving them for domestic use.
“P Act. all the way,” Trump continued, with P apparently referring to the Defense Production Act. “Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing—will have a big price to pay!”
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said at the briefing, “We’ve had some issues making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places.”
In a segment of his show on Fox News, Tucker Carlson spoke to Jared Moskowitz from the Florida Division of Emergency Management about efforts to obtain 3M masks.
“Since when do we have a U.S. company that sells masks, and I try to offer them money, and they won’t sell them to me? That I have to go through their authorized distributors, and their only excuse is that they don’t have a perfect system,” Moskowitz complained on the show.
Moskowitz said 3M distributors told him procurers from abroad were buying up masks ahead of U.S. states.

A doctor wears a protective mask as he walks outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan during the outbreak of the CCP virus in New York City on April 1, 2020. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
Following the announcement of the DPA order, 3M said in a statement on Friday it would work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to increase the production of respirators.
“We appreciate the authorities in the DPA that provide a framework for us to expand even further the work we are doing in response to the global pandemic crisis,” the company stated.
“In the course of our collaboration with the administration this past weekend, the administration requested that 3M increase the amount of respirators we currently import from our overseas operations into the United States. We appreciate the assistance of the administration to do exactly that. For example, earlier this week, we secured approval from China to export to the United States 10 million N95 respirators manufactured by 3M in China,” 3M said.
“The administration also requested that 3M cease exporting respirators that we currently manufacture in the United States to the Canadian and Latin American markets,” the company continued.
“There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to healthcare workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators. In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done. If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease,” the company said.
“That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek,” 3M stated.
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OAN Reporter Attends Press Conference After Network’s Removal by Correspondents Association

A reporter with One America News Network (OAN) attended the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Thursday night, one day after the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) removed her network from its rotation of reporters covering the briefing.
Chanel Rion stood in the back of the briefing room and was called on by President Donald Trump. She asked Trump about his potentially using the Defense Production Act for things other than masks and ventilators.
Jared Kusher, Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, answered the question, explaining how officials are spending time trying to pin down what quantity of supplies state officials actually need, versus what they’re asking for out of concern for the future.
The WHCA said this week that OAN was being removed from its rotation because Rion twice violated social distancing policies enacted based on guidance from federal health officials. She also attended briefings despite not being assigned a seat in the briefing room.
Rion noted that video footage showed other reporters and photographers were violating the guidelines and that she was an invited guest of White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
OAN and the White House didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

enior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner speaks, flanked by (From L) Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx, Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, US President Donald Trump, US Vice President Mike Pence and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, during the daily briefing on the CCP virus in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on April 2, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles Herring, CEO of OAN, told The Epoch Times previously that members of the association “were aware that Ms. Rion was extended an invitation by Stephanie Grisham, but took retaliatory action anyway.”
Grisham invited Rion again on Thursday, according to the reporter and Herring.
Every seat in the briefing room is typically taken but the number of correspondents allowed in the room has been cut amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 14 seats are available now for the daily briefing, prompting a rotation among print, radio, and television news outlets.
OAN is a television broadcaster based in California.
Jonathan Karl, an ABC News reporter and president of the WHCA, said in a statement to news outlets that he asked Grisham to make Rion sit in a section of seating reserved for White House guests.

President Donald Trump speaks about the CCP virus in the James Brady Briefing Room in Washington on March 23, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
“In order to comply with the social distancing guidelines, and to take steps to ensure the health and safety of the press corps and White House staff, there is no room for reporters who do not have an assigned seat today, or on any given day, to be standing in the briefing room,” he said in a statement.
“If somebody is to be a guest of the White House, they should be sitting in the seats to the side, which are set aside for White House staff.”
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Trump to Announce Free Virus Treatment for Americans Without Insurance

President Donald Trump will announce on Friday free CCP virus treatment for uninsured Americans.
Around 30 million people in the country lack insurance.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, top administration officials are focused on a plan that would relieve people without insurance from paying for virus testing or treatment. COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
“The president has made it clear: we don’t want any American to worry about the cost of getting a test or the cost of getting treatment,” Vice President Mike Pence, the White House Coronavirus Task Force head, told reporters on Thursday night.
The task force is working on a proposal that would use some of the $100 billion directed toward hospitals in a recent piece of legislation to compensate hospitals directly for any CCP virus treatment they provide to uninsured Americans.
The exact details are still being worked out.

A staff member of Odyssey House Louisiana, which runs a drive-through testing site for the CCP virus, waves to passing vehicles to try to alert the community about testing in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 27, 2020. (Kathleen Flynn/Reuters)

A health care worker tests people at a drive-through testing station run by the state health department, for people who suspect they have the CCP virus, in Denver, Colorado, on March 11, 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
“There are 30-odd million uninsured Americans and the president has directed the coronavirus task force to find a way to make sure that they know we will find a way to pay for the coronavirus treatment and the president will be announcing that tomorrow,” Pence said at the White House.
Many insurance companies waived co-payment for virus testing and some Blue Cross companies will waive cost-sharing treatment for COVID-19, the company announced earlier in the day.
Coverage under Medicaid and Medicare has also been expanded to include CCP virus testing and treatment as well as telehealth services.
Administration officials have declined to commit to reopening the insurance marketplace and Trump on Thursday said they’re looking at a different method of helping those without insurance.
“We’re going to try to get a cash payment to the people and we’re working out the mechanics of that with the legislature,” the president said.
“Just opening it up doesn’t help as much. We’re going to try and get, for that certain group of people, a cash payment.”
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Oil Hikes on Trump’s Expectation of Saudi–Russia Production Cut Deal

Oil prices soared on April 2 after President Donald Trump said Russia and Saudi Arabia may soon reach an agreement on cutting oil production.
Trump said so after speaking with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
“Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President [Vladimir] Putin of Russia, & I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Could be as high as 15 Million Barrels. Good (GREAT) news for everyone!” he added in another tweet.
Upon the tweets, Brent Crude, the leading oil price index, gained about 13 percent, finishing just below the $30 mark, still far from the $50 mark where it stood in early March.
The world is pumping out over 80 millions of barrels of crude oil a day. Russia contributes about 11 million, while Saudi Arabia contributes about 10 million. A cut of 10 million to 15 million barrels a day would likely involve more producers than Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Price War
Moscow and Riyadh have been locked in a price war after Russia walked away from talks on production cuts with the Organization of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC) in early March. Since then, both countries have escalated production, which has depressed oil prices already under downward pressure by demand cratering amid the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of OPEC, on April 2 called for an emergency meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers, an informal grouping known as OPEC+, state media reported, saying it aimed to reach a fair agreement to stabilize oil markets.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on April 2 that Moscow was no longer planning to raise output and was ready to cooperate with OPEC and other producers to stabilize the market.
“Trump’s call to Putin has changed everything,” one OPEC+ source said, adding that initial talk among the group was about how other large producers such as Canada and Brazil would need to join in any coordinated output cuts.
It was not clear when Saudi Arabia’s proposed emergency OPEC meeting could be held.
Trump is separately set to meet with U.S. oil industry executives on April 3.
A senior U.S. administration official familiar with the matter said Trump would not formally ask U.S. oil companies to contribute to the production cuts, a move forbidden by U.S. antitrust legislation.
Virus Impact
Global oil demand is expected to fall by about 30 million barrels per day in April, or about one-third of daily consumption. Some 3 billion people have been put on lockdown to slow the spread of the CCP virus, also called novel coronavirus, which has sickened more than 1 million people worldwide and killed over 50,000.
The immense decline in demand sent oil prices to their lowest levels since 2002, hitting budgets of oil producing nations and dealing a huge blow to the U.S. shale oil industry, which cannot compete at prices this low.
Major global oil producers, including Chevron, Brazil’s Petrobras, and BP, have already scaled back production estimates. Storage is expected to be full by May, analysts said, which would force oil producers to cut output anyway.
The free fall in prices has spurred regulators in Texas, the heart of the country’s oil production, to consider regulating output for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Ryan Sitton, one of three elected oil-and-gas regulators in Texas, wrote on Twitter April 2 that he had spoken with Russia’s Novak about a cut of 10 million barrels per day in global supply.
“While we normally compete, we agreed that #COVID19 requires unprecedented level of int’l cooperation,” Sitton wrote.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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Trump Again Tests Negative for Coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks about the outbreak at the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 31, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)

President Donald Trump has tested negative for the CCP virus a second time, according to a memo from White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Grisham said, in a note given to reporters, that Trump was tested on Thursday morning and had the results 15 minutes later.

President Donald Trump, flanked by officials and business leaders, announces a national emergency with regard to the coronavirus in the White House Rose Garden in Washington on March 13, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
The results were revealed moments before Trump walked in for the briefing.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Trump Tests Negative for COVID-19 for a Second Time

President Donald Trump was tested for a second time to determine whether he contracted COVID-19, and the result came back negative, according to the White House on Thursday.
Trump was given a new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus test that provides results in 15 minutes, according to a memo provided by the White House. The test was carried out on Thursday morning.
“This morning, the President was tested again for COVID-19, utilizing a new rapid point-of-care test capability. He is healthy and without symptoms,” wrote White House physician Dr. Sean Conley in the memo. The results came “back in 15 minutes.”
Trump said, during a Thursday evening briefing at the White House, that he took the new CCP virus test out of curiosity to see how it worked.
“It took me literally a minute to take it,” he said. “I think I took it really out of curiosity to see how fast it worked,” Trump added. “The second one is much more pleasant.”

Medics attend to a COVID-19 patient at the University Hospital in Essen, Germany, on April 1, 2020. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Previously, Trump tested negative for COVID-19 in mid-March, coming just days after he met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and a Brazilian government official who later tested positive for the virus. Bolsonaro was also tested, with the results coming back as negative.
The White House physician said at the time that the president didn’t need to get the CCP virus test because he only had limited contact with the Brazilian delegation.
Vice President Mike Pence, first lady Melania Trump, and Trump’s daughter Ivanka have been tested for the virus. All of the tests came back negative.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new CCP virus test, which provides a result in 15 minutes.
Abbott Laboratories, a health care company based in Illinois, said its new test can deliver positive results in as little as 5 minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.
Apart from the rapid results, the test is important because it can be used outside hospitals in places such as doctors’ offices and urgent care clinics. The test runs on the company’s ID NOW platform, a 6.6-pound box the size of a small toaster.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former FDA commissioner, said the new test is a “game changer.”
“This is GAME CHANGER. Abbott to market, starting next week, a fast point-of-care #coronavirus test, delivering positive results in 5min and negative results in 13min. Will deliver 50K tests/day to start. Kudos to Abbott and FDA’s Jeff Shuren and team at CDRH who are in the fight,” he wrote in a Twitter post.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

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OAN Reporter Removed From White House Briefing Rotation Plans to Attend as Press Secretary’s Guest

A reporter barred on Wednesday from covering White House press conferences planned on attending Thursday’s daily briefing as a guest of White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
Chanel Rion, a White House reporter for One America News (OAN), said during an appearance on the network on Thursday afternoon that she would go to the briefing later in the day. Grisham invited Rion on Wednesday and asked the reporter to come again on Thursday.
“I will be in the briefing room today if there’s no physical complications with that,” the reporter said.
Charles Herring, the CEO of One America News, confirmed to The Epoch Times that Rion was invited to attend the briefing on Thursday by Grisham.
The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) said in a statement Wednesday night that OAN was removed from the rotation of reporters who are allowed into the briefings because she twice attended them “in contravention” of a social distancing policy.

WHCA Statement on Removing News Organization from News Briefing Seat Rotation pic.twitter.com/KL3XcPq7Rt
— WHCA (@whca) April 1, 2020

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the association issued the policy cutting down on the number of reporters allowed in the room amid the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
The association assigns certain seats to certain outlets, rotating the seats among print, radio, and television reporters.
Rion stood in the back on Wednesday as a guest of Grisham’s. She has had a seat in the room in recent weeks on several occasions.
Photographs and video footage showed other reporters and photographers coming within six feet of each other repeatedly during the briefing, which would violate CDC guidelines.
“They said I was violating social distancing guidelines by standing in that room when I was not allowed to. Now, if you look at footage of that briefing room, photographers are standing in that pathway. For the most part, you see a lot of them getting a lot closer than 6 feet,” Rion said on Thursday. “My positioning in that room, I was away from the majority of people for the majority of the time.”

President Donald Trump speaks about the CCP virus in the James Brady Briefing Room in Washington on March 23, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
Herring told The Epoch Times in an email that the White House Correspondents Association failed to note Rion was an invited guest of Grisham.
“OAN’s presence in the briefing room was therefore appropriate,” he wrote.
“OAN’s reporter stood in the back of the room to adequately address social distancing. The WHCA organization members were aware that Ms. Rion was extended an invitation by Stephanie Grisham, but took retaliatory action anyway.”
Rion last month asked President Donald Trump, who opens every briefing, about some media outlets promoting Chinese Communist Party narratives, including the accusation that Trump calling the illness the “Chinese virus” was racist.
“Is it alarming that major media players, just to oppose you, are siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals, and Latin gangs and cartels and they work right here out of the White House with direct access to you and your team?” she asked.

One America News Network correspondent Chanel Rion asks a question during a briefing by President Donald Trump on the CCP virus in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on April 1, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump said that he was amazed when he reads some stories, adding, “I don’t think anybody has done as much as I have done in three years. This administration has done a great job. But the press is very dishonest.”
Herring suggested the reporter association’s move could be retaliation for that question.
Rion was promoted to lead the network’s White House coverage in January.
“We’re delighted to have Chanel lead our White House coverage. She’s fully engaged in the news cycle and not afraid to ask the tough questions,” Herring said at the time.
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Trump Casts Doubt on China’s Official COVID-19 Numbers

President Donald Trump cast doubt on China’s official numbers in relation to the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths inside the country during an April 1 coronavirus task force briefing.
Trump was asked whether he had received an intelligence report concluding that Beijing concealed the true extent of the outbreak, as reported by Bloomberg, in which three anonymous U.S. officials were cited.
“We have not received that,” Trump responded, referring to the classified report. “But their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side. And I’m being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported.”
He was also asked if he had addressed the numbers in his recent conversation with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping. The president said he is in constant communication with Xi, but that they have not really discussed the numbers.
“As to whether or not their numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China,” Trump added.
Internal government documents obtained by The Epoch Times have highlighted how the Chinese regime purposefully underreported cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus and censored discussions of the outbreak, helping to fuel the spread of the disease.
At the same briefing, national security adviser Robert O’Brien also said to reporters that no official data coming from China can be verified.
“Unfortunately, we are just not in a position to confirm any of the numbers that are coming out of China,” he said. “There’s no way to confirm any of those numbers.”
U.S. officials, including Trump, have in recent times become more vocal in addressing China’s mishandling of the CCP virus. The United States has also been a target of an increasingly aggressive propaganda campaign by Beijing.
Although the narratives pushed by the CCP can change quickly, the goals are the same: to deflect responsibility over its botched handling of the CCP virus and to portray an image that it has successfully contained the outbreak.
At a March 17 briefing, Trump said: “China was putting out information which was false, that our military gave this [virus] to them. That was false, and rather than having an argument, I have to call it where it came from. It did come from China.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, suggested at a March 31 briefing that the United States response was slowed by flawed data from China.
“When you looked at the China data originally … you start thinking of this more like SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] than you do a global pandemic,” she said.
“The medical community interpreted the Chinese data as, this was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” Birx said. “Because, probably … we were missing a significant amount of the data.”
Meanwhile, in Europe, scientific advisers warned the United Kingdom’s prime minister that China’s official statistics on the CCP virus could be “downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times” and that Downing Street believes Beijing is attempting to exploit the pandemic for economic gain, reported by The Mail on March 28.
A China insider told The Epoch Times in January that public health authorities were attempting to cover up the severity of the virus by limiting the number of diagnosis kits sent to Wuhan hospitals.
The Epoch Times has also documented stories of some Chinese citizens—including whistleblower doctors, citizen journalists, scholars, and business people—who have been silenced by the regime for exposing the truth.
And in an April 2 Twitter thread on China, John Bolton, former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, wrote that “China’s falsehoods and concealment of data about coronavirus are dangerous to America and the whole world.”
“Untold numbers of people have died needlessly because of the authoritarian Beijing regime’s conduct,” Bolton said in a Twitter post. “The global economy has suffered a catastrophic setback that might have been substantially mitigated had China just been honest.”
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Pelosi Announces Creation of Panel to Oversee Trillions Approved for Virus Response

A new bipartisan oversight panel will ensure funds dispersed by Congress during the CCP virus pandemic are spent effectively, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Thursday.
The House panel, chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), will be dedicated to examining “all aspects of the federal response to coronavirus,” Pelosi told reporters in a conference call.
As part of the effort, the panel will oversee the $2.2 trillion Congress recently approved for virus-related spending and any future funds approved for virus-related efforts “are spent wisely and effectively,” she added, including making sure each state and hospital receives the resources it needs.
“The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse,” she said.
The California Democrat said the panel is modeled on the Truman Committee, which oversaw federal funds dispersed during Wold War II.
The $2.2 trillion bill signed by President Donald Trump last week included the establishment of a congressional oversight commission appointed by Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and the top Republicans in Congress.
Other oversight mechanisms include having the Pentagon’s top watchdog overseeing distribution of the funds.
Pelosi also expressed support for a commission recommended by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) that would review the Trump administration’s early response to the the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Schiff said that the United States reviewed what went wrong after Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) speaks to members of the media at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 13, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
“Once we’ve recovered, we need a nonpartisan commission to review our response and how we can better prepare for the next pandemic,” he said. “I’m working on a bill to do that.”
Some have dismissed the idea, including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), ranking member of Schiff’s committee.
Schiff and other Democrats impeached Republican President Donald Trump late last year as the virus was first emerging in China and took their arguments for why the president should have been removed from office to the Senate.
Senators in February voted to acquit Trump.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that impeachment distracted the government from focusing on the threat of the CCP virus.
Trump told reporters at the White House that he doesn’t like to think that impeachment distracted the attention of him, Vice President Mike Pence, or administration officials.
“I think I handled it very well, but I guess it probably did. I mean, I got impeached. I think, you know, I certainly devoted a little time to thinking about it, right?” he said.
Pelosi on the phone call said lawmakers are still working on a phase four virus bill following passage of phase three last week, an effort opposed by House Republicans.
“I don’t think that’s appropriate at this time. We just passed three bills, the largest in the history. We’ve got to make sure this is implemented correctly,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on a separate phone call.
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Democratic National Convention Postponed Until August Over CCP Virus

The Democratic National Convention has been delayed from July until August amid the pandemic threat, officials confirmed Thursday.
“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” said Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese in a news release.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” he said.
The convention, which will serve as the venue to nominate the Democrats’ candidate to run against President Donald Trump in November, will now be held in the week of Aug. 17 in Milwaukee.
With the move, planners will now be provided more time to structure the event, according to the news release.

A person wearing a mask walks on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, on April 1, 2020. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus outbreak already forced the postponement of Democratic primaries in several states.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that the decision to postpone the convention was “absolutely the right move,” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“It underscores the commitment that they have made to Milwaukee,” he said. “It underscores the commitment they have made to Wisconsin and it is my hope that by having it in August it will be a much needed shot in the arm for our restaurants, hotels, and other businesses.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic election, said earlier this week that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Democratic convention was postponed over the pandemic. A reporter with MSNBC had asked him if he could imagine it being held in July as originally planned.
“It’s hard to envision that,” Biden said. “We ought to be able—we were able to do it in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II—have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we’re able to do both. But the fact is it may have to be different,” he added.
The CCP virus, a type of coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, before CCP mismanagement and efforts to cover it up led to a worldwide pandemic. More than 200,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States as of Thursday along with more than 5,000 deaths, according to a running tally from Johns Hopkins University.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers, a Democratic, has banned mass gatherings and said that meetings of more than 10 people can help spread the virus. He issued a stay-at-home order until at least April 24.

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Social Security Recipients Will Automatically Get Virus Relief Checks

The U.S. Treasury announced that Social Security recipients will not have to file a tax return to receive a federal government payment to help offset the economic impact of the CCP virus outbreak.
“Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an April 1 statement.
The Treasury’s statement reverses guidance the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued on Monday that said seniors would have to file a “simple” tax return to receive the money.

The Internal Revenue Service building in Washington on Feb. 19, 2014. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
The payments, up to $1,200 for individuals, are part of a roughly $2.3 trillion economic relief package signed into law by President Donald Trump last week.
“The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019,” the Treasury said in a press release.
“Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits,” the agency stated.
The change comes after pushback from lawmakers and advocacy groups, who argued that people like seniors or the disabled should not have to file a tax return just to get stimulus checks.
A group of 41 senators on Wednesday sent a letter to Mnuchin and Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul saying the move would burden the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
“This [IRS] filing requirement would place a significant burden on retired seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, especially given the current unavailability of tax filing assistance from Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs during the COVID-19 crisis,” the senators wrote on Wednesday. “We strongly urge you to ensure that economic stimulus payments are automatically sent to vulnerable seniors and individuals who experience disabilities, without these individuals needing to file a tax return.”
Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank, said the concept should be expanded to other groups.
“Now it’s imperative that the administration use its authority and the information it already has to do the same for very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income as well as low-income veterans who receive certain benefits from the Veterans Administration,” Marr told CNBC in a statement.
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Trump Deploys Military as Drug Cartels Try to Exploit Pandemic to Infiltrate US

The Navy deployed warships to the eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea at the direction of President Donald Trump on April 1 as part of an operation to counter drug cartels which, according to intelligence, are actively planning to exploit the global CCP virus pandemic to smuggle more drugs into the United States.
The mission involves sending additional Navy warships, surveillance aircraft, and special forces teams to nearly double the U.S. counter-narcotics capacity in the Western Hemisphere, with forces operating both in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the mission would be supported by 22 partner nations.
“As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there is a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists, and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,” Trump said. “We must not let that happen.”
U.S. authorities have long been short on resources in the area to interdict all of the drug traffic heading along naval routes to the United States. The intelligence community has long been aware of the routes, according to Attorney General Bill Barr. Last year, authorities seized 280 metric tons of drugs in the area.
Trump made the announcement one day after the White House advised Americans to brace for the deadliest days of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, commonly known as the coronavirus.
According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, the United States is in possession of intelligence showing that the cartels are looking to exploit the crisis to smuggle more drugs into the country.
The enhanced mission has been months in the making. The formal launch comes days after the Justice Department’s indictment of Nicholas Maduro, Venezuela’s illegitimate socialist dictator, and members of his inner circle and military. They are accused of leading a narcoterrorist conspiracy responsible for smuggling up to 250 metric tons of cocaine a year into the United States—about half of it by sea.
“If I was just indicted for drug trafficking by the United States with a $15 million reward for my capture, having the U.S. Navy conducting anti-drug operations off my coast would be something I would worry about,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who has been among those calling for a tougher stance against Maduro.
It also comes as Maduro steps up attacks on his U.S.-backed rival, Juan Guaidó. Maduro’s chief prosecutor ordered Guaidó to provide testimony Thursday as part of an investigation into an alleged coup attempt.
Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s congress who is recognized as his country’s legitimate leader by the United States and almost 60 other nations, is unlikely to show up, raising the possibility he could be arrested. The United States has long insisted it will not tolerate any harm to Guaidó.
“No matter where you sit ideologically, any move to try to bring democracy back to Venezuela requires first recognizing the criminal nature of the Maduro regime, and making moves that scare the regime into negotiating,” said Raul Gallegos, a Bogota, Colombia-based director in the Andean region for Control Risks, a consulting group.
Maduro blasted the Trump administration’s offer of a $15 million reward for his arrest, calling it the work of a “racist cowboy” aimed at getting U.S. hands on Venezuela’s vast oil reserves—the world’s largest. He also points out that the vast majority of cocaine leaves South America from Colombia, a staunch U.S. ally.

The Trump administration has long insisted that all options are on the table for removing Maduro, including military ones. Still, there’s no indication then, or now, that any sort of U.S. invasion is being planned.
Rather, the sending of ships fits into a longstanding call by the U.S. Southern Command for additional assets to combat growing narcotics and other security threats in the hemisphere.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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GOP Leaders Seek DOJ Inspector General’s Testimony on New FISA Report

Republican leaders in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees are calling for the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify on his new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) audit report, which found that the FBI had failed to follow proper procedures needed to obtain FISA warrants.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) have separately called for Horowitz’s testimony following the release of the preliminary findings in his audit on Tuesday.
The audit was initiated after Horowitz’s investigation into the FBI’s surveillance on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page found that there were widespread fundamental and serious errors in the FISA applications used to spy on him. The findings of that report, issued in December 2019, found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures.”
The follow-up review (pdf) determined that FBI agents broke the bureau’s policy by failing to follow the “Woods Procedure,” which requires agents to compile supporting documentation for each fact in the FISA application. The Wood Procedures were implemented in 2001 in an effort to “minimize factual inaccuracies in FISA applications” as well as to ensure that the statements are “scrupulously accurate.”
Horowitz reviewed a sample of 29 FISA applications spanning a five year period from eight FBI field offices. Of those, the FBI could not locate the Woods files—a record of that contains documentation that substantiates facts asserted in a FISA application—for four of the applications reviewed. Meanwhile, the office “identified apparent errors or inadequately supported facts” in the Wood files of the other 25 applications.
“[W]e believe that a deficiency in the FBI’s efforts to support the factual statements in FISA applications through its Woods Procedures undermines the FBI’s ability to achieve its ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications,” Tuesday’s memo stated.
In a statement on Tuesday, Graham said that he intends to ask Horowitz to appear before his committee to explain his findings on the problems identified in the inspector general’s audit.
Meanwhile, Jordan, the ranking member of the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the committee’s chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on March 31 to urge him to invite Horowitz to testify on FBI’s FISA process. Jordan had previously asked Nadler to invite the inspector general to testify after the December FISA report, but Nadler has so far resisted pressure to do so.
“Because of the pervasiveness and seriousness of the FISA application deficiencies—and the pending reauthorization of FISA—we renew our request that you invite Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify at a public hearing promptly when the House returns to session,” the letter stated (pdf).
Jordan also said that the preliminary findings “validate” a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge’s concern about the “reliability of information contained in applications.”
The judge, Rosemary Collyer, said in an order in December that the frequency in which FBI agents abused the FISA processes in Page’s application calls into question whether the information in other FISA applications is reliable (pdf).
“The Committee must not allow the FBI’s extraordinary power to electronically surveil Americans to be so haphazardly rubber-stamped with incorrect, unsubstantiated, or erroneous supporting information,” Jordan said.
Congress is currently in the process of reauthorizing several domestic surveillance powers under FISA, which expired on March 15. The House struck a compromise on a number of reform issues and passed a bill renewing the expired provisions. The Senate was unable to reach an agreement and instead approved a short-term extension for the expired provisions through to May 30, which gives senators more time to consider amendments to FISA. The House will still need to pass the short-term extensions.
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Most Voting in Online Survey Say ‘CCP Virus’ is Right Name for Coronavirus

More than 52 percent of the respondents to Rep. Paul Gosar’s Twitter poll of what to call the coronavirus disease voted in favor of “CCP Virus,” the nomenclature adopted several weeks ago by The Epoch Times
“Let’s settle this, what is the best name for this virus,” the Arizona Republican asked in a March 30 tweet. The four options he gave respondents included “Wuhan Virus,” “CCP Virus,” “China Virus,” and “SARS COVID-19 Red Death.”

Let’s settle this. What is the best name for this virus?
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) March 31, 2020

A total of 17,812, or 52.4 percent, of the 34,253 respondents selected “CCP Virus,” an acronym that stands for “Chinese Communist Party Virus.”
The CCP controls mainland China and is increasingly seen as responsible for the deadly virus that first appeared in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, and spread to nations around the world.
The Epoch Times announced in a March 18 editorial that it would henceforth refer to the disease as the CCP Virus on first reference because it “holds the CCP accountable for its wanton disregard of human life and consequent spawning of a pandemic that has put untold numbers in countries around the world at risk, while creating widespread fear and devastating the economies of nations trying to cope with this disease.”
Second in the Gosar voting with 23.7 percent was “Wuhan Virus,” which refers to the origin of the virus.
Third was “China Virus,” with 19.3 percent, followed in last place by “SARS COVID-19 Red Death” with 4.7 percent.
“Thank you to the thousands of Chinese who voted or commented on why this is an appropriate name,” Gosar commented in a second tweet.
Most news organizations referred in the pandemic’s early stages to the disease using either “Wuhan” or “China,” but they have more recently sharply criticized President Donald Trump for doing so.

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White House to America: Brace for the Worst, But Know Mitigation Is Working

As the deadliest stretch of the CCP virus pandemic in the United States is projected to be near, the White House wants Americans to brace for weeks of grim news ahead, to know that mitigation is already working, and to unite as a nation to follow the government’s social distancing guidelines for 30 more days.
Based on the best-case projection with full mitigation measures in place, as many as 240,000 people may die from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus before the outbreak is extinguished, according to models used by the White House. The pandemic is expected to peak by April 15 with over 2,200 deaths in a single day before beginning a gradual decline that may prove even more deadly over time.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead.” President Donald Trump said at the White House on March 31. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”
“Our strength will be tested and our endurance will be tried, but America will answer with love and courage and ironclad resolve,” he added. “This is the time for all Americans to come together and do our part.”
Trump and the members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force highlighted that while the statistics about the pandemic’s spread in the United States will continue to look increasingly bleak in the next two-to-three weeks, there is evidence that social distancing measures are helping stem the outbreak.
As a result, the White House is urging Americans to do their part in helping defeat the disease and ease the strain on the healthcare system by continuing to follow its social distancing guidelines as well as local measures in place in their communities at least until April 30.
“We got to brace ourselves in the next several days to a week or so,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the CCP virus task force. “We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.”
Dr. Deborah Birx, another member of the CCP virus task force, said, “We’re very dependent on each person in the United States doing the same thing: following the presidential guidelines to a tee. I know it’s a lot to ask because you’ve done it for 15 days.”
Despite the gloomy prognosis, there are glimmers of hope from statistics at home and abroad. In California and Washington state, social distancing appears to have helped suppress a rapid rise in new cases. In Italy, new cases are finally declining on a daily basis after nearly four weeks of full mitigation.
“So this is what gives us a lot of hope,” Birx said. “They’re entering their fourth week of full mitigation and showing what is possible when we work together as a community, as a country, to change the course of this pandemic together.”
Models used by the White House already show that actions taken since the beginning of the outbreak may have reduced the total death toll in the United States by several orders of magnitude. In a no-intervention scenario, up to 2.2 million people may have died from the CCP virus, according to one model.
Trump and his team have used daily briefings to place the White House’s all-of-government approach on full display for Americans. Vice President Mike Pence regularly rattles off a list of supplies, equipment, and personnel delivered around the nation.
“To the American people though, we just want to assure you that we’re going to continue to work our hearts out to make sure our healthcare providers have everything they need, that anyone struggling with coronavirus has the support and healthcare they need,” Pence said at the briefing on March 31.
While all of the officials struck a markedly somber tone on March 31, each emphasized that Americans can ride out the storm by doing their part and following social distancing guidelines.
“If you look at our history, we’ve been through some terrible ordeals,” Fauci said. “This is tough. People are suffering. People are dying. It’s inconvenient from a societal standpoint, from an economic standpoint, to go through this, but this is going to be the answer to our problems.”
“So let’s all pull together and make sure, as we look forward to the next 30 days, we do it with all the intensity and force that we can.”
Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov

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Republican Colleagues Cheer Meadows Move to White House, Praise His Principled Prudence

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump first encountered former Rep. Mark Meadows’ firm devotion to his conservative convictions not long after being inaugurated, during a House Republican conference discussion on a proposed health care reform. “Mark has a good history with the President. It actually started out with him speaking truth to power in a very difficult situation,” […]

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Trump Urges Florida to Let Cruise Ship With Infected Passengers Dock

President Donald Trump said he would ask Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow the docking of a cruise ship with passengers who have had contact with patients suffering from COVID-19.
As of Tuesday evening, four people on Holland America’s Zaandam cruise ship had died, according to a statement by company officials, with eight people testing positive for the CCP virus.
“They’re dying on the ship,” Trump said at a briefing Tuesday, addressing DeSantis’s opposition to letting the Zaandam dock.
“I’m going to do what’s right, not only for us but for humanity,” the president added.
After leaving Argentina in early March, the Zaandam has been stuck at sea, with passengers anxious to disembark once they reach Florida. DeSantis said the state’s health care resources are already stretched too thin to absorb the ship’s CCP virus caseload.
“We cannot afford to have people who aren’t even Floridians dumped into South Florida using up those valuable resources,” DeSantis told Fox News.

Holland America’s cruise ship Zaandam as it enters the Panama City bay to be assisted by the Rotterdam cruise ship with supplies, personnel, and COVID-19 testing devices, 8 miles off the coast of Panama City, on March 27, 2020. (Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images)
“We think it’s a mistake to be putting people into southern Florida right now, given what we’re dealing with, so we would like to have medical personnel simply be dispatched to that ship, and the cruise lines can hopefully arrange for that, tend to folks who may need medical attention,” DeSantis said, according to Fox.
A second Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, took on about two-thirds of the Zaandam’s passengers who passed a medical check. It is expected to arrive at Fort Lauderdale by the end of the week.
Orlando Ashford, President of Holland America, urged authorities to show compassion.
“We are dealing with a ‘not my problem’ syndrome,” Ashford said in a statement. “The international community, consistently generous and helpful in the face of human suffering, shut itself off to Zaandam.”
“Nations are justifiably focused on the COVID-19 crisis unfolding before them. But they’ve turned their backs on thousands of people left floating at sea. Are these reactions based on facts from experts like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or fueled by irrational fear? What happened to compassion and help thy neighbor?” he said in the statement.
“Already four guests have passed away and I fear other lives are at risk. As of March 30, 76 guests and 117 crew on Zaandam have influenza-like illness, including eight people who have tested positive for COVID-19,” he wrote.
“The COVID-19 situation is one of the most urgent tests of our common humanity. To slam the door in the face of these people betrays our deepest human values,” Ashford wrote.
To date, more than 4,000 people have died from the CCP virus in the United States while over 189,633 cases have been confirmed, according to the latest data collated by Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the global pandemic.
President Donald Trump said at a White House briefing Tuesday that it is “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the fight against the pandemic.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said.
“This is going to be one of the roughest two or three weeks we’ve ever had in our country,” Trump added. “We’re going to lose thousands of people.”

President Donald Trump speaks about the outbreak at the White House in Washington on March 31, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
As of April 1, a reported 4,081 have died from COVID-19, with 1,096 of those deaths occurring in New York City, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. To date, 7,136 people in the United States have recovered from the respiratory disease.
For most people, the CCP virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Inspector General Finds Rampant Errors in FBI Surveillance

The Justice Department watchdog determined that the FBI failed to properly document the facts in 25 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications reviewed for an audit.
The findings are part of a report (pdf) released on March 30 by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General. The office had previously found widespread fundamental and serious errors in the FISA applications used to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
The review of the Page applications determined FBI agents broke bureau policy by failing to adequately maintain a so-called “Woods file,” a set of records substantiating the factual assertions in surveillance applications. The flaws with the surveillance of Page prompted the inspector general to launch a review of the Woods procedures throughout the bureau, which in turn unearthed pervasive errors spanning every FISA application audited.
“We believe that a deficiency in the FBI’s efforts to support the factual statements in FISA applications through its Woods Procedures undermines the FBI’s ability to achieve its ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications,” the report stated.
The watchdog reviewed a sample of 29 FISA applications spanning five years across eight FBI field offices. The FBI did not have Woods Files for four of the applications reviewed. The Woods Files for the remaining 25 applications all had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts,” the inspector general said.
The inspector general also reviewed the internal audits the FBI conducted on 42 FISA applications and similarly found that “these oversight mechanisms routinely identified deficiencies in documentation supporting FISA applications,” similar to those flagged during the watchdog’s review.
The flaws in the internal audits are especially notable because FBI agents were warned about an audit in advance and had the opportunity to retroactively plug gaps in the Woods Files. Of the 42 applications reviewed, 39 had a “total of about 390 issues, including unverified, inaccurate, or inadequately supported facts, as well as typographical errors.”
The FBI officials responsible for reviewing the Woods procedures had access to the internal reports but did not use them to ensure that the statements the FBI submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were “scrupulously accurate,” as is required by bureau policy.
The applications sampled for the inspector general audit had an average of 20 issues each. One application had approximately 65 issues.
The inspector general’s findings suggest that at least some of the serious errors found in the case of the Trump-campaign associate may have been part of a bureau-wide failure. The motives behind the errors in the Carter Page surveillance remain a hotly contested issue even after the inspector general’s review did not find any evidence that the missteps stemmed from political bias.
Some of the FBI officials involved in the investigation of the Trump campaign expressed intense bias against then-candidate and eventually President Donald Trump. Text messages between FBI special agent Peter Strzok and bureau attorney Lisa Page exposed the pair’s hatred of Trump, discussions about an insurance policy in case he became president, and plans to stop Trump from winning the election.
An unverified dossier of opposition research on Trump compiled by a former foreign spy played a crucial role in the FBI’s decision to seek a warrant to spy on Page. That dossier was funded through a law firm by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The applications used for a warrant to surveil Page cast him as an agent of Russia, despite the FBI being in possession of evidence to the contrary which was not included in the applications. Notably, the FBI was advised by the CIA that Page was working with the agency and had regularly reported on his contacts with Russians.
The FBI is already undergoing an overhaul of its surveillance practices in response to an order from the FISC. A judge required the bureau to embark on a set of reforms that would convince the court that the surveillance applications by the FBI can be trusted.
“Regardless of whatever ‘reforms’ FBI leaders voluntarily adopt, it’s clear their operations require close oversight by congressional leaders who actually care about Americans’ civil liberties and will not approve of improper spying when it’s aimed at their political opponents,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a statement to The Epoch Times.
The FBI responded to the OIG’s latest findings by noting that the flaws identified in the review “underscore the importance” of the reforms the FBI is already carrying out. The bureau also agreed to implement the inspector general’s suggested remedies.
The bureau said it will begin using the results of its internal FISA application audits to enhance compliance with Woods procedures through training and, if appropriate, new policies. The FBI also went beyond the inspector general’s recommendation to ensure that each FISA application submitted to the secret court in pending investigations had an accompanying Woods File. The bureau said it would not only review the applications in active cases, but ensure that every application dating back to 2015 has a Woods File.
“As Director Wray has stressed, FISA is an indispensable tool to guard against national security threats, but we must ensure these authorities are carefully exercised and that FISA applications are scrupulously accurate,” FBI Associate Deputy Director Paul Abbate wrote.
Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov

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McConnell: Impeachment Trial Distracted Government From CCP Virus Threat

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said the attempt to impeach President Donald Trump earlier this year distracted the White House from focusing on the threat posed by the CCP virus.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus “came up while we were tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell told “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”
He noted that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who has been one of Congress’ most vocal opponents of the Chinese regime’s response to the viral outbreak, was “right on the mark” in predicting it would become a threat to the United States. Cotton has said the CCP “will pay” for mismanaging and will be held “accountable” for the crisis.
Cotton “figured this out early, and he was absolutely right,” McConnell said. The CCP claimed the first person died in early January and on Jan. 23, the central city of Wuhan was placed on lockdown before the World Health Organization declared it a global health emergency on Jan. 30.
In that timeframe, Trump was on trial in the Senate on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress impeachment charges before he was acquitted of all charges on Feb. 5. Three weeks of January and part of February was spent on the trial, which included arguments presented by House impeachment managers led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Trump’s legal defense team.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) speaks to the media after attending a briefing with administration officials about the situation with Iran, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Cotton appeared on the “Hugh Hewitt Show” and said he began looking into reports about the virus in late January.
“The first time I recall talking about the China virus in the media was on your show, probably late in January and I had started studying the problem in mid-January,” the Arkansas Republican said.“I have to tell you that in mid-January and late-January, unfortunately, Washington, especially the Congress was consumed with another matter—you may recall the partisan impeachment of the president,” Cotton added.
The White House has come under fire for what some said was a slow response to the pandemic, including a shortage of test kits early on in the outbreak.
McConnell also Hewitt that he has not heard of any reports of senators being diagnosed with COVID-19, which is caused by the CCP virus. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) confirmed last week that he contracted the virus, saying he is asymptomatic.

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New York Governor Says He’s Not Running for President

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo twice on Monday said he’s not running for president, amid chatter the Democratic establishment could turn to him in the event of a brokered convention.
If neither former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) earn a majority of delegates, a brokered convention would be triggered. The second round of voting includes superdelegates and could feature someone not currently in the field winning the Democratic nomination.
Chris Cuomo, Cuomo’s brother and host of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” asked the governor on Monday night whether he was thinking about running for president.
“No, no,” Cuomo responded.
Pressed again, the governor said: “The answer is no.”
The CNN host asked if the governor had ever thought about it, whether he was open to thinking about it, and whether he might think about it at some point. Cuomo answered no each time.
“I know what I might think about and what I won’t think about. I won’t think about it,” Cuomo said, praising Biden repeatedly.
Appearing at his daily briefing in New York City earlier Monday, Cuomo dismissed an accusation that he’s unwilling to challenge Republican President Donald Trump while asserting he’s able to be nonpolitical because he’s not running for president.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the CCP virus in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 2020. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort docks at Pier 90 on the Hudson River as the coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm medical infrastructure seen from West New York, New Jersey, on March 30, 2020. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
“I was never running for president. I said from day one, I wasn’t running for president. I’m not running for president now. I’m not playing politics,” he said.
Cuomo, who has alternated between praising and criticizing the president, said he’d told Trump that when the president does good things for New York, he’d be the first to say he’s been a good partner.
“And I have,” the governor said, noting he helped welcome the USNS Comfort on Monday morning. “I said, ‘Thank you, Mr. President.”
Some pundits and political observers have alleged that Cuomo is a better choice to challenge Trump than Biden, who has largely been out of the spotlight since the CCP (Communist Chinese Party) virus pandemic began spreading across the United States.
Trump fanned the flames on Monday morning when asked about the praise Cuomo has garnered and speculation of a presidential bid.
“If he’s going to run, that’s fine. I wouldn’t mind running against Andrew. I understand—I know Andrew for a long time. I wouldn’t mind that,” Trump said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”
“But I’ll be honest, I think it’d be a better candidate than Sleepy Joe. I wouldn’t mind running against Andrew. I don’t mind running against Joe Biden.”
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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House of Representatives ‘Not Returning to Washington Until at Least April 20’

The U.S. House of Representatives will not be returning to Washington until at least April 20 amid the CCP virus pandemic, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) advised members on March 30.
Hoyer’s office told representatives on Monday that the House “is not expected to meet” before April 20, but noted that “if the House is required to take action on critical legislation related to the coronavirus response or other legislative priorities, members will be given sufficient notice to return to Washington, D.C.”
“This update does not mean that the House will come back on April 20,” a Democratic aide said. “It could be later depending on the circumstances.”
The announcement comes after President Donald Trump on Monday said that he will be extending his administration’s “15 days to slow the spread” campaign for an additional month, meaning Americans will need to continue to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people; refrain from eating in bars, restaurants, and food courts; avoid non-essential travel; and not visit nursing homes until the end of April.
Trump cited a modeling estimate that suggests the peak in the death rate for the CCP virus will occur in two weeks, and urged Americans to follow the guidelines, which also include basic sanitary measures like washing hands frequently and not touching one’s face, adding, “The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end.”
The District’s Mayor Muriel Bowser also issued a Stay-At-Home order at a press conference Monday, specifying that residents may only leave their homes for essential activities such as obtaining medical care that cannot be provided through telehealth; obtaining food and essential household goods; performing or accessing governmental functions; or for essential travel.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at a news conference in Washington on March 7, 2020, to announce the first presumptive positive case of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
Bowser’s order will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on April 1, 2020 and will continue through April 24, 2020, unless it is extended. Anyone who willfully violates the order may be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, subject to a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both.
“Our message remains the same: stay home,” said Bowser. “Staying at home is the best way to flatten the curve and protect yourself, your family, and our entire community from COVID-19. Many people want to know how they can help right now, and for most people this is how—by staying home.”
Congress and President Trump have enacted three measures, including a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill meant to fuel the fight against the CCP virus pandemic and sustain the hard-hit economy as the nation takes drastic measures to stop the spread of the disease.
However, Democrats on Monday said they were already drafting an ambitious CCP virus response package, with speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), telling reporters that “the fourth bill would be about recovery,” and would largely focus on helping the frontline medical workers, but could include substantial investments in infrastructure.
“There are infrastructure needs that our country has that directly relate to how we are proceeding with the coronavirus,” Pelosi said on a conference call with reporters. “And we would like to see in what comes next something that has always been nonpartisan, bipartisan, and that is an infrastructure piece that takes us into the future.”

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Meadows Officially Resigns From Congress to Commence Role as White House Chief of Staff

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) has resigned from Congress as he prepares to begin working at the White House as President Trump’s next chief of staff, a role which he is expected to commence on March 31.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Meadows said that “serving the people of North Carolina’s 11th congressional district for these last seven years has been the honor of my life. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity.” He signed off the letter with “thank you and God bless you in the days ahead.”
Meadows, who will replace his former colleague and Freedom Caucus member, Mick Mulvaney, wrote that his resignation was effective as of 5 p.m. on March 30. Mulvaney has served as Trump’s acting chief of staff for a little more than a year. He was the president’s third chief of staff following Reince Priebus and John Kelly, who previously served in the role.
Trump named Meadows as the next White House Chief of Staff in a tweet earlier this month, where he also announced that he would appoint Mulvaney as U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland.
“I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff. I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one,” Trump wrote. “I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!” Trump wrote.
Meadows served nearly four terms as a North Carolina representative. According to his official website, he “has been a known champion for fiscal responsibility, accountable government, pro-growth economic policies, pro-family and pro-life initiatives, and a strong military.”
His new role comes amid perhaps the biggest crisis of Trump’s presidency as the global CCP virus pandemic continues to sweep across the world.

A woman wearing a mask walks the Brooklyn Bridge in the midst of the CCP virus outbreak in New York City on March 20, 2020. (Victor J. Blue/Getty Images)
Meadows himself was forced to self-quarantine for 14 days earlier this month following concerns he may have contracted the virus after coming in contact with someone carrying it while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February. However, his test results later came back negative.
In an effort to contain the virus, Trump announced this week that he will be extending his administration’s “15 days to slow the spread” campaign for an additional month, meaning Americans will need to continue practicing social distancing, while the elderly and high-risk individuals must stay at home.

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Sen. Richard Burr Promises Cooperation With Any Investigations Amid Reported Probe Into Stock Sales

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Monday promised to cooperate with any investigations into the stock sales he made after receiving closed-door briefings on the threat of the new virus from China, known as the novel coronavirus or the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Alice Fisher, an attorney representing Burr, said in a statement that Burr would welcome a review of the sales, which amounted to between $628,000 and $1.7 million.
Burr previously asked for the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the sales, Fisher noted, and “he will cooperate with that review, as well as any other appropriate inquiry.”
“Senator Burr welcomes a thorough review of the facts in the matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate,” she added.
Neither Ethics Chairman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) nor Ranking Member Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) have returned repeated requests for comment.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) at a Senate hearing in Washington, on Sept. 27, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
The statement came after an anonymously-sourced report claimed the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were probing the sales made by Burr and other lawmakers in January and February. A SEC spokesman declined to comment. The Department of Justice didn’t respond to a query.
Jay Clayton, chairman of the SEC, said during an appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday that people shouldn’t make stock sales with private information.
“Anyone who is privy to private information about a company or about markets needs to be cautious about how they use that private information,” Clayton said. “That’s sort of fundamental to our securities laws and that applies to government employees, public officials, etc., and the STOCK Act codifies that.”
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act) bars members of Congress from using “non-public information” for making a private profit, including insider trading.
Burr said in a statement earlier this month that he “relied solely on public reporting to guide my decision to sell the stock.”

Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 8, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
An independent review, though, “is warranted to ensure full and complete transparency,” he said in a letter to Lankford.
The public reports include a health and science report from CNBC’s Asia bureaus, Burr said in a statement.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and some other lawmakers who sold stocks around the same time have alleged that they weren’t aware of the sales until afterward.
Loeffler said in a statement that investment decisions for her portfolio are made by third-party advisers. She wasn’t informed of the sales and purchases until Feb. 16, three weeks after they were made.
Feinstein said in a statement that she’s held all of her assets in a blind trust since she assumed office.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Trump Says COVID-19 in US Will Peak ‘Around Easter’

President Donald Trump, in an interview Monday with “Fox & Friends,” said that the CCP virus cases will likely peak “around Easter” and defended the White House’s social distancing guidelines, saying they would last until the end of April. “We’re doing a lot of things and we don’t want to [reduce the restrictions] too soon,” […]

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White House Outlines 5G Security Strategy, Warns of ‘High-Risk’ Vendors

The Trump administration recently released a security strategy for 5G wireless network technology. The United States needs to lead the development of 5G standards, assess its vulnerabilities to hacking, and address national security dangers posed by “high-risk” 5G vendors, according to a document, titled “National Strategy to Secure 5G.”
The strategy makes no mention of who the “high-risk” 5G vendors might be, but the field of candidates is so narrow as to make clear the target is Huawei.
Washington has stressed that the Chinese company—founded in 1987 by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer—is an extension of the Chinese regime and that it assists Chinese intelligence. Huawei denies it.
The strategy refers to President Donald Trump’s May 2019 executive order, which “establishes the authorities to prohibit certain transactions that involve information and communications technology or services designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary that pose an undue or unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States.”
To outmaneuver the Chinese regime in the 5G market, the United States will focus on leading the development of robust standards for 5G that would be quickly developed under “open and transparent processes.”
Regarding the hacking risks, the administration “will work with the private sector to identify, develop, and apply core security principles—best practices in cyber security, supply chain risk management, and public safety—to United States 5G infrastructure,” the strategy document says (pdf).
In addition, the United States will work to promote “vendor diversity,” the document says, including by the use of “incentives” and “accountability mechanisms.”
The diversity likely applies to the promotion of Huawei competitors. The two likely candidates would be Erricsson and Nokia, both advanced players in the 5G field and both floated before as companies that could be propped up to undercut Huawei.
It may be unrealistic for the companies to outcompete Huawei on their own. The Chinese giant has received some $75 billion in state subsidies from the Chinese regime, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The United States has gone to some lengths to exclude Huawei and other key Chinese players from its telecom infrastructure. On March 12, Trump signed the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which provides $1 billion to replace any equipment made by Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese company, used by rural telecom carriers in the United States.
Other countries, however, are not so eager. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Huawei will supply up to 35 percent of the country’s 5G communications infrastructure. Excluding Huawei would have delayed the 5G rollout and cost consumers more, Britain argued.
5G technology enables cell phone networks to reach data transmission bandwidth comparable to WiFi networks. However, it has a more limited reach, so it requires a denser web of cell towers. Aside from faster mobile internet, it’s expected to allow billions of other devices to be connected to the internet.
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Trump Admin Names Gun Makers, Retailers, Ranges Essential Businesses Nationwide

The White House on Saturday named gun manufacturers, firing ranges, and gun retailers as essential businesses after several states closed down gun stores as part of a lockdown to curb the spread of the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided updated guidelines on its website about the changes.
The agency said that “workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” are deemed essential.
Those workers are listed under the designation for “law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders” on the website. That designation also includes public, private, and voluntary personnel “in emergency management, law enforcement, fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, and private security, to include public and private hazardous material responders, air medical service providers, corrections, and search and rescue personnel,” according to the agency.
Christopher Krebs, who heads the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, wrote that the updated guidelines are intended to be an official recommendation and are nonbinding, which means that states can theoretically implement different restrictions.
“This list is intended to help state, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security,” he wrote on March 28.

Andrea Schry, right, fills out the buyer part of legal forms to buy a handgun as shop worker Missy Morosky fills out the vendors parts after Dukes Sport Shop reopened in New Castle, Penn., on March 25, 2020. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)
Starting about two weeks ago, across the United States, local and state officials shut down gun stores, ranges, and factories after deeming them nonessential. As a result of the closures and uncertainty over the spread of the CCP virus, demand for guns and ammunition has surged.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group, called for a designation for gun businesses to be essential earlier this month.
“We have seen over the past week hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans choosing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms to ensure their safety and the safety of loved ones during these uncertain times,” Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the group, said in a statement obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. “Americans must not be denied the ability to exercise that right to lawfully purchase and acquire firearms during times of emergency.”
Last week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that gun stores should be classified as essential businesses and should remain open.
“State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now. However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law,” he said on March 27.

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Trump Sees Off Hospital Ship Bound for New York

President Donald Trump traveled to a naval base in Virginia Saturday to see off the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship loaned out by the U.S. Navy for deployment in the COVID-19 response effort.
“This great ship behind me is a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York,” Trump said, standing in front of the ship as it stood moored at Naval Station Norfolk. “We’re here for you, we’re fighting for you, and we’re with you all the way.”
Trump said he was looking forward to the pending departure of the ship to New York, the hot-zone of the nation’s fight against the CCP virus.
“Who would ever think 151 countries are under attack,” Trump said of the outbreak.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
“We are one family bound together by love and loyalty, the eternal traits so perfectly embodied by the extraordinary men and women aboard this ship,” the president said of Comfort, which holds over 1,000 beds and will transport over 1,200 medical staff to help New York cope with the COVID-19 crisis.

The USNS Comfort is docked at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, on March 28, 2020. The hospital ship will depart for New York City on March 28 to aid in the CCP virus outbreak. (Erin Schaff/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
The president said the ship would be departing ahead of schedule, adding that “it is loaded up with everything, so that’s great.”
Trump shared a photo of the ship on Twitter earlier, saying it was “loaded to the gills.”

Heading to the Great State of Virginia now, will be there shortly. The #USNSComfort is “loaded to the gills” at Naval Station Norfolk, departing for New York City this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/1ZSUweoX7x
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2020

Earlier, the White House announced in a release that Trump would travel to Norfolk on Saturday “to bid bon voyage to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) as it leaves for New York City to the frontlines of the COVID-19 virus response. The USNS Comfort will sail well ahead of its originally scheduled departure time to answer America’s call to battle against the global pandemic here at home.”
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly said in a Pentagon press briefing that “we’ve accelerated the plan for Comfort. We had originally been looking at April 3, but in all likelihood she’s going to be getting underway this weekend. So hopefully she’ll be there in New York by the early part of next week.”
The ship has 12 fully equipped operating rooms, eight intensive care unit beds, four radiology suites, ABC reports.
“With the courage of our doctors, and nurses, with the skill of our scientists and innovators, with the determination of the American people, and with the grace of God, we will win this war and we will win this war quickly with as little death as possible,” Trump said.
The president and Defense Secretary Mark Esper then watched the ship set sail.

President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper watch as the U.S. Naval Hospital Ship Comfort leaves Naval Station Norfolk, on March 28, 2020. (Screenshot via White House/YouTube)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday the number of COVID-19 cases there climbed to 52,318 and deaths to 728.
“We have been behind this virus from day one. We are waiting to see what the virus does,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “You don’t win on defense. You win on offense. You have to get ahead of this.”
Cuomo also said Trump had approved the construction of four additional temporary hospital sites in New York City, adding 4,000 hospital beds.
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Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn Dies at 72

Former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn died at his home Saturday, according to a statement from his family. He was 72.
“Tom A. Coburn, MD, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully at home this morning surrounded by his family,” his family said in a statement. “Because of his strong faith, he rested in the hope found in John chapter 11 verse 25 where Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, will live, even though they die.’ Today he lives in heaven.”
A memorial service for Coburn will be held at a later date and will be announced, the family said.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Trump Invokes Defense Production Act to Force GM Make Ventilators Quicker

President Donald Trump has authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to move faster on a government contract to produce ventilators that help patients with acute symptoms of the CCP virus to breathe. GM said it’s been working “around the clock.”
The CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, infected over 100,000 in the United States and killed 1,544 by March 27, according to data on confirmed cases. The Epoch Times calls it the CCP virus as it was allowed to spread around the world due to the coverup and mismanagement by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators,” Trump said in a March 27 statement. “Our negotiations with GM regarding its ability to supply ventilators have been productive, but our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course. GM was wasting time. Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives.”
GM has partnered with Ventec Life Systems, a manufacturer of the ventilators, to expand the production capacity for the devices.
Earlier on March 27, the companies announced that Ventec’s VOCSN devices, which combine the ventilator with several other medical devices, will be manufactured at GM’s plant in Kokomo, Indiana.
The devices from the new production site were “scheduled to ship as soon as next month” while Ventec was “taking aggressive steps to ramp up production at their manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington,” the companies said.
“Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for weeks to meet this urgent need,” GM stated in an emailed response to Trump’s announcement. “Our commitment to build Ventec’s high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered.”
In the late morning of March 27, Trump fired out a tweet criticizing the company’s leadership, specifically the chief executive, Mary Barra.
“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” he said. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6,000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’.”
In one of the subsequent tweets, he clarified that “P” meant the Defense Production Act.
He also urged the company to reopen its “stupidly abandoned” plant in Lordstown, Ohio, or use another site “and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!”
“FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!” he followed.
Several minutes later, he wrote on Twitter:
“We have just purchased many Ventilators from some wonderful companies. Names and numbers will be announced later today!”
Following Trump’s tweets, Ford said it was moving as fast as it could to gear up its ventilator manufacturing efforts and was in “active conversations” with the Trump administration in seeking approvals. The company said it has “teams working flat-out with GE Healthcare to boost production of simplified ventilators.”
The effort to quickly mass-produce the ventilators, as well as other supplies like protective masks, has been joined by hundreds of companies.
The ventilators have been cited by authorities as a bottleneck in the effort to manage the epidemic. Not every patient requires hospitalization, but many of those who do end up with acute breathing difficulties require being put on a ventilator.
New York state, where the outbreak has been the most severe, will require tens of thousands of ventilators, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. So far, the state has several thousand hospitalizations related to the virus.
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Kentucky Congressman Explains Why He Tried to Force Expanded Vote on Relief Bill

The Congressman who tried to force expanded voting on the COVID-19 relief bill ahead of the House vote Friday said he was driven by respect for process and desire for congressional accountability, and explained his reasoning in a series of statements.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said he insisted on a roll-call vote on the bill because he wanted a clear record of accountability for House members.
“It’s pretty clear now, with enough members here to pass the bill, that Pelosi and McCarthy are still working together to block a recorded vote just to insulate members of Congress from ACCOUNTABILITY,” Massie wrote.
“Biggest spending bill in the history of mankind, and no recorded vote? #SWAMP,” he added, in an apparent reference to critics of Washington politics who decry it as corrupt and lacking in transparency.
In remarks to C-SPAN, Massie said “there’s a big cover-up in there.”
“They’re trying to cover up their votes,” he said in response to a reporter’s question about what type of cover-up he had in mind.
“They had enough people there to pass the bill, but they still refused to have a recorded vote,” he added.

.@RepThomasMassie: “There’s a big cover up in there.” pic.twitter.com/tOmxjTCfLX
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 27, 2020

The House voted on Friday to adopt the $2.2 trillion CCP virus relief bill, which President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly praised the package, is expected to sign later in the day.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement let the virus spread throughout China and then across the world.
Massie’s call for a recorded vote failed because of insufficient support and a subsequent call for a quorum failed because a majority of lawmakers were already present after members flew in across the country following word of Massie’s attempt late Thursday.
The package was passed on a voice vote, with the ayes outnumbering the nays.
“Are they afraid of the truth? I’ve been told that they don’t even have 1 minute available for me to speak against this bill during the 4 hour debate,” Massie said in a tweet. “The fix is in. If this bill is so great for America, why not allow a vote on it? Why not have a real debate?”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) listens as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on May 31, 2015. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Many Republicans opposed his attempts to force an expanded vote, including Trump, who called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and said stalling the bill would be “dangerous and costly.”
The historic relief bill comes at a time of significant bipartisan action to marshal resources to protect the lives of Americans and prevent an economic crash amid the outbreak.
“Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive,” Trump said in a tweet. “Virus wasn’t their fault.”
The president later announced he would be signing the bill in the Oval Office.
“Will be signing the CARE Act in the Oval Office today at 4:00 P.M. Eastern!” Trump wrote.

Will be signing the CARE Act in the Oval Office today at 4:00 P.M. Eastern! https://t.co/0WnTNFZPZD
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020

‘I Take That Oath Seriously’
In a series of 11 tweets, Massie explained his rationale for more debate on the bill and a different adoption process.
“I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously,” Massie said.
“The Constitution requires that a quorum of members be present to conduct business in the House,” he continued. “Right now, millions of essential, working-class Americans are still required to go to work during this pandemic such as manufacturing line workers, healthcare professionals, pilots, grocery clerks, cooks/chefs, delivery drivers, auto mechanics, and janitors (to name just a few). Is it too much to ask that the House do its job, just like the Senate did?”
Because the vote wasn’t recorded, it wasn’t clear who voted which way, but the shout-outs sounded resoundingly in favor of the package. Lawmakers across the chamber applauded after the announcement.
The Congressman said his calls for more debate around the bill was “not delaying the bill like Nancy Pelosi did last week.”

In this image from video, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 27, 2020. (House Television via AP)
“This bill should have been voted on much sooner in both the Senate and House and it shouldn’t be stuffed full of Nancy Pelosi’s pork- including $25 million for the Kennedy Center, grants for the National Endowment for the Humanities and Arts, and millions more other measures that have no direct relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic,” Massie said.
“That $25 million, for example, should go directly to purchasing test kits. The number one priority of this bill should have been to expand testing availability and creation of tests so that every American, not just the wealthy and privileged, have access to testing,” he said.
He complained the bill amplified his earlier concerns around central bank transparency.
“This bill creates even more secrecy around a Federal Reserve that still refuses to be audited,” Massie said. “It allows the Federal Reserve to make decisions about who gets what, how much money we’ll print. With no transparency. If getting us into $6 trillion more debt doesn’t matter, then why are we not getting $350 trillion more in debt so that we can give a check of $1 million to every person in the country?” he said.
“This stimulus should go straight to the people rather than being funneled through banks and corporations like this bill is doing. 2 trillion divided by 150 million workers is about $13,333.00 per person. That’s much more than the $1,200 per person check authorized by this bill.”

Rep Thomas Massie (R-KY) draws a Ruger LCP handgun from his pocket during a rally in support of the Second Amendment, in Frankfort, Kentucky, on Jan. 31, 2020. (Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
The unprecedented $2.2 trillion package that stretches across 880 pages includes one-time payments of $1,200 to any American making less than $75,000 a year and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000.
Parents would receive $500 per child.
Both Democratic and Republican leaders said they supported the bill, which originated in the House but underwent changes in the Senate before lawmakers there passed it unanimously on Wednesday night.
Trump on Thursday night told reporters that he was “profoundly grateful that both parties came together to provide relief for American workers and families in this hour of need.”
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House Approves $2.2 Trillion CCP Virus Relief Bill, Trump Poised to Sign

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a $2.2 trillion CCP virus relief bill, two days after the Senate passed the measure.
President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly praised the package, is expected to sign it later today.
Despite support from both parties, drama unfolded in Washington because Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) announced his intention to try to force expanded voting on the bill. His call for a recorded vote failed because of insufficient support and a subsequent call for a quorum because a majority of lawmakers were already present after members flew in across the country following word of Massie’s attempt late Thursday.
The package was thus passed on voice vote, with the ayes outnumbering the nays.

In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol after he blocked a unanimous consent vote on a long-awaited hurricane disaster aid bill in the chamber. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
Massie said he wanted to make sure “the Republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber.” Many Republicans opposed the move, including Trump, who called Massie a “third rate Grandstander.”
Because the vote wasn’t recorded, it wasn’t clear who voted which way, but the shout-outs sounded resoundingly in favor of the package. Lawmakers across the chamber applauded after the announcement.
Social distancing measures forced members to spread out in the chamber, with some viewing the proceedings from the visitor’s gallery. Others weren’t present, being either in transit to Washington or remaining in their home states.
Both Democratic and Republican leadership said they supported the bill, which originated in the House but underwent changes in the Senate before lawmakers there passed it unanimously on Wednesday night.
Trump on Thursday night told reporters that he was “profoundly grateful that both parties came together to provide relief for American workers and families in this hour of need,” highlighting a number of aspects of the legislation.

In this image from video, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 27, 2020. (House Television via AP)
The unprecedented $2.2 trillion package that stretches across 880 pages includes one-time payments of $1,200 to any American making less than $75,000 a year and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000.
Parents would receive $500 per child.
Individuals or couples making over the limits will still get money, but payments will be reduced by $5 for each $100 over the threshold they make.
The limits are tied to 2019 tax returns or, if they’re not available, 2018 tax returns. People who didn’t file returns can use other forms such as a Social Security Benefit Statement.

Industrial firm employees manufacture Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like face shields, to supply New York’s health care workers and hospitals at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio visits in New York City on March 26, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
The bill designates $250 billion for extending unemployment insurance, both to more workers and for more time, $349 billion for loans for small businesses, $200 billion in tax assistance to small businesses, over $100 billion for hospitals and the healthcare system, and $58 billion for airlines.
Congress is planning additional bills after the package, the third passed addressing the impact of the CCP virus, congressional leaders said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the next piece of legislation could include free virus testing and treatment. Asked if the administration thinks a so-called phase four package is necessary and, if so, what should be in it, Vice President Mike Pence demurred on specifics, telling reporters in Washington on Thursday, “What the President has made clear to our governors: We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
The administration is already evaluating requests from some governors for additional resources and congressional leadership, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has indicated a willingness to consider the requests.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
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Texas Attorney General: Local Governments Must Allow Sale of Guns

Local governments must allow the sale of guns even during a pandemic, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a legal opinion issued on Friday.
Emergency powers cannot be used to regulate or restrict the sale of firearms, according to the state’s top law enforcement official.
“State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now. However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law,” Paxton said in a statement.
“Under our laws, every Texan retains their right to purchase and possess firearms.”
Paxton’s legal opinion (pdf) was in response to Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows, who earlier in the week asked Paxton if gun stores could fit under the label of essential businesses.

An employee stands at the entrance to a guns shop in Culver City, Calif., on March 24, 2020. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)
Non-essential businesses are being forced to close across the nation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new disease is caused by the novel coronavirus, which The Epoch Times refers to as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Burrows, in a statement, praised Paxton’s opinion, stating that having access to firearms and ammunition in the current situation “is clearly essential.”
Local governments considering temporarily banning sales of weapons and closing gun ranges “would expose Texans to serious and perhaps fatal vulnerabilities,” he added.
Some municipalities elsewhere are considering or have already issued orders for gun stores to close.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva this week said gun and ammunition stores “are not considered essential businesses.”
His decision contradicted a legal opinion from the county’s counsel.
Other locales, including New Orleans, have banned or restricted the sales of firearms and ammunition.

Andrea Schry, right, fills out the buyer part of legal forms to buy a handgun as shop worker Missy Morosky fills out the vendors parts after Dukes Sport Shop reopened in New Castle, Pa., on March 25, 2020. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)
New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have also deemed gun stores nonessential while authorities in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan said they are essential.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered gun stores to close along with other businesses dubbed nonessential, prompting gun rights groups to file legal challenges. The state Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuits but the governor reversed his order, allowing the shops to remain open if they followed social distancing guidelines.
Other states are also facing legal challenges, including New Jersey. The National Rifle Association said in a statement that other jurisdictions have added delays for background checks and put new restrictions on firearm transfers. The group promised members it will “keep a constant watch on what is happening nationwide” and “work diligently to ensure that you are able to defend yourself and your family during these unprecedented times.”
Gun stores across the nation have reported a jump in sales since the number of COVID-19 cases began rising in the United States as people stocked up on goods, including food and medicine, according to news reports and FBI background checks. Federal data shared with the National Shooting Sports Foundation showed background checks were up 300 percent on March 16 compared with the same day last year.
According to Ammo.com, an online retailer, people have been buying ammunition “at an unprecedented rate.”
“When there’s a national emergency, people are looking for food, water, shelter—that part is important to the survival of our nation,” Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Texas, told the Associated Press. “They are also looking for the Second Amendment to protect their families.”
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CNN to Air Joe Biden’s Town Hall on Pandemic

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the Democrat field of 2020 presidential hopefuls, will take part in a televised CNN town hall on the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an announcement by the network, the hour-long event will take place on Friday and will “feature questions submitted by individuals living in some of the communities hit hardest by the coronavirus.”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
Biden will stream the event from his home studio in Delaware, while CNN anchor Anderson Cooper will moderate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leaves the lectern after delivering remarks about the COVID-19 outbreak, in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 12, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The former vice president has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.
Ahead of the event, Biden wrote on Twitter on Friday: “It’s never a matter of if another pandemic will happen, it’s just a matter of when—and it’s the president’s job to ensure we’re ready.”
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has seen his approval ratings climb during the crisis.
A Gallup poll released earlier this week showed 60 percent of Americans approving the president’s handling of the outbreak.
Some Democrat strategists have expressed reservation whether Biden’s attacks on the president carry a political downside as the country struggles to cope with the virus outbreak.
“Biden has a thin line,” a campaign adviser to Biden told Politico. “There’s a danger now that attacking [Trump] can backfire on you if you get too far out there. I don’t think the public wants to hear criticism of Trump right now.”
Earlier, the presumed Democrat nominee streamed from his home studio on Monday, saying, “Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response. And I, along with every American, hope he steps up and starts to get this right.”
During the streamed event, CNN’s Jake Tapper reminded Biden to cough into the crook of his elbow, rather than into his hand, as Biden did on-air. Trump shared the clip on Twitter, deriding Biden for the error in hygiene.
A national Monmouth University poll published on Tuesday shows Biden holding a “negligible 3 point lead over Donald Trump in the race for president,” with Biden having the support of 48 percent of registered voters to Trump’s 45 percent.
The U.S. CCP virus death toll topped the 1,000 milestone in recent days, while the pandemic’s mounting economic burden was illustrated by government data on Thursday showing a record number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits and hospitals struggling to treat a surge of infected patients.
For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with pre-existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, typically between people who are in close contact with one another and via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
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House Starts Debate on Virus Bill as Trump Calls for Throwing Representative Out of GOP

The House of Representatives on Friday started debating the CCP virus relief package the Senate passed earlier in the week as President Donald Trump called for ejecting a GOP representative who is considering blocking a vote on the legislation.
Representatives entered the House chamber to begin up to three hours of debate on the Senate Amendment to H.R. 748. The bill outlines payments to people and businesses, billions for airlines, and a large small business support.
Members were told in an updated schedule that leaders were hopeful the bill will pass by voice vote but that they should travel to Washington if they’re “able and willing.” Some lawmakers boarded flights early Friday.
A voice vote can only happen if every member present in the U.S. Capitol doesn’t ask for a roll call, or recorded, vote. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told WKRC that he’s against a voice vote, signaling he might ask for a recorded vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a press conference on March 26, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Massie has remained elusive on whether he will block a voice vote but posted information about a U.S. Constitution clause that states a majority of the House “shall constitute a Quorum to do Business.”
If someone objects, the member chairing the House counts lawmakers present, and if they don’t constitute a quorum, or majority, then a vote is started and held open until there is a majority, or 216 members. Recorded votes include how each lawmaker voted, while a voice vote hides how each one voted.
Either way, Massie intends to vote against the package, citing concern about adding to the national debt with the $2 trillion package.
The Freedom Caucus, founded by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) also said that members don’t support the package, but didn’t say whether they’d vote against it.
A similar situation unfolded in 2018 during the Spanish flu. A call for a quorum caused a delay but was eventually withdrawn.
Some have targeted Massie by name, including Rep. Dean Phillips (R-Minn.).

A physician is seen outside at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 26, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
“If you intend to delay passage of the coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt,” Phillips wrote to Massie on Twitter.
Republican President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Friday to suggest Massie be thrown out of the Republican Party, calling the Congressman a “third rate Grandstander.”
“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump wrote.
“Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive.”
Trump accused Massie of “empowering the Radical Left Democrats.”

.@RepThomasMassie is one of the most principled men in Congress & loves his country. He is defending the Constitution today by requiring a quorum. There’s nothing 3rd rate about that, @realDonaldTrump. I may miss vote if he forces roll call (flights) but it will pass. Back off. https://t.co/ms8TM3rJp8
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) March 27, 2020

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) pushed back on Trump’s allegations, telling the president that Massie “is one of the most principled men in Congress & loves his country.”
“He is defending the Constitution today by requiring a quorum. There’s nothing 3rd rate about that, @realDonaldTrump. I may miss vote if he forces roll call (flights) but it will pass. Back off,” Roy wrote.
Massie faces a reelection race this year against lawyer Todd McMurty, who represented Covington Catholic high school students after the situation involving them in Washington. Massie, 49, has been in office since 2012.
Two Democrats are also running for the seat in deep-red Kentucky.
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Washington Set to Deliver $2.2 Trillion CCP Virus Rescue Bill

WASHINGTON—With rare bipartisanship and speed, Washington is about to deliver massive, unprecedented legislation to speed help to people and businesses as the CCP virus pandemic takes a devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system.
The House is set to pass the sprawling $2.2 trillion measure on Friday morning after an extraordinary 96-0 Senate vote late Wednesday. President Donald Trump marveled at the unanimity Thursday and is eager to sign the package into law.
The relief can hardly come soon enough. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Thursday the economy “may well be in recession” already, and the government reported a shocking 3.3 million burst of weekly jobless claims, more than four times the previous record. The U.S. death toll has surpassed 1,200 from the virus.
The legislation will pour $1,200 direct payments to individuals and a flood of subsidized loans, grants, and tax breaks to businesses facing extinction in an economic shutdown caused as Americans self-isolate by the tens of millions.
But key elements are untested, such as grants to small businesses to keep workers on payroll and complex lending programs to larger businesses. Millions of rebate payments will go to people who have retained their jobs.
Policymakers worry that bureaucracies like the Small Business Administration may become overwhelmed, and conservatives fear that a new, generous unemployment benefit will dissuade jobless people from returning to the workforce. A new $500 billion subsidized lending program for larger businesses is unproven as well.
First the measure must clear Congress. Leaders in both parties had hoped to pass the measure with a sparsely attended voice vote—remarkable for a bill of such magnitude—so scattered lawmakers don’t have to risk exposure by traveling back to Washington.
But now it is feared iconoclastic Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), an opponent of the bill, may seek to force a roll call vote. Democratic leaders summoned members back to Washington, at least those who are able and willing to return.
Friday’s House session will also be unprecedented. Originally scheduled as a non-working “pro forma” meeting, the session will be extended to a debate on the bill—all conducted under social distancing rules to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the House’s conservative leaders, said he wasn’t aware of anyone planning to block a voice vote Friday but planned to talk more with colleagues before the vote.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in Washington in a file photograph. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
“If that’s the method used to get this to the American people, to get this passed, then I think lots of members are probably OK with that,” Jordan said Thursday as he drove back to Washington. “I know the plan is for it to be a voice vote, and that’s what the leadership has said they’re for, and I think that’s fine.”
Wednesday night’s unanimous Senate vote on the bill was especially striking—a united front that followed days of sometimes tumultuous negotiations and partisan eruptions. Democrats twice voted to block the bill to seek further add-ons and changes.
“The power of the argument that we had—that you need a strong government to solve these problems, both health and economic—carried the day,” Chuck Schumer told The Associated Press on Thursday. “Had we not stood up on those two votes it wouldn’t have happened.”
Underscoring the effort’s sheer magnitude, the bill finances a response with a price tag that equals half the size of the entire $4 trillion-plus annual federal budget. The $2.2 trillion estimate is the White House’s best guess of the spending it contains.
The rescue bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
Unemployment insurance would be made far more generous, with $600 per week tacked onto regular state jobless payments through the end of July. States and local governments would receive $150 billion in supplemental funding to help them provide basic and emergency services during the crisis.
“We call them checks in the mail, but most of them will be direct deposits,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday. “It will be within three weeks. We’re determined to get money in people’s pocket immediately.”
The legislation also establishes a $454 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries in hopes of leveraging up to $4.5 trillion in lending to distressed businesses, states, and municipalities. All would be up to the Treasury Department’s discretion, though businesses controlled by Trump or immediate family members and by members of Congress would be ineligible.
There was also $150 billion devoted to the health care system, including $100 billion for grants to hospitals and other health care providers buckling under the strain of COVID-19 caseloads.
Republicans successfully pressed for an employee retention tax credit that’s estimated to provide $50 billion to companies that retain employees on payroll and cover 50 percent of workers’ paychecks up to $10,000. Companies would also be able to defer payment of the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax. A huge tax break for interest costs and operating losses limited by the 2017 tax overhaul was restored at a $200 billion cost in a boon for the real estate sector.
An additional $45 billion would fund additional relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local response efforts and community services.
Most people who contract the CCP virus have mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia or death.
By Andrew Taylor

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Trump Says He Has Doubts About China’s Official Virus Data

President Donald Trump on Thursday expressed his doubts about the number of COVID-19 cases being reported by the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) in its official data that is quoted around the world.
“You don’t know what the numbers are in China,” the president said when asked by a reporter whether he was surprised that the United States has surpassed China in the number of cases of the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
A tracking map published by Johns Hopkins University currently shows that the United States has 83,507 confirmed cases, compared to China which has an official confirmed case total of 81,782.
Trump said that he thinks the increase in cases being reported in the United States is “a tribute to the testing—we’re testing tremendous numbers of people … We’re doing tremendous testing.”
“I’m sure you’re not able to tell what China is testing or not testing,” Trump told the reporter. “I think that’s a little hard.”
He said that he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were scheduled to talk by phone on Thursday night.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the CCP virus in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC on March 26, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
According to The Epoch Times’ investigations, China’s actual number of cases and deaths from the CCP virus are likely to be more than 10 times higher than what is being reported.
A series of internal government documents obtained by The Epoch Times show that the situation in the city of Wuhan, the ground zero of China’s epidemic, is much worse than what has been officially reported. The documents include statistical data sheets on March 14 about diagnostic test results in Wuhan from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. In one example, the real number of new cases of infection in Wuhan is over 20 times more than the official numbers.
Read More

Editorial: Giving the Right Name to the Virus Causing a Worldwide Pandemic

Authorities in Beijing also announced on March 19 that the number of Chinese cellphone users had dropped by 21 million over the past three months, without explaining the cause of the drop. The Epoch Times noted in a previous report that cellphones are an indispensable part of life in China and that deaths due to the CCP virus may have contributed some of to the closed accounts.
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States as testing and access to it improves, and as testing centers work to clear a backlog of samples.
On Tuesday, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that the United States had now conducted more testing in the prior eight days than South Korea had in eight weeks. At the time, she said the United States was doing about 50,000 to 70,000 tests a day.
During a virtual town hall on Fox News, Birx said that South Korea, which has a population of 51.4 million, tested about 290,000 people. The United States, she said, which has about 372 million residents, has done over 300,000 tests.
The American Enterprise Institute started a tracker of America’s testing capacity, which is projecting that the United States will conduct 100,000 or more COVID-19 tests per day by March 27.
The Coronavirus Task Force is urging all Americans to adhere to the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign to urgently reduce the spread of the virus. Trump said on Tuesday that his administration will assess recommendations surrounding business activity after the 15 days of recommended social distancing measures.
Read More

21 Million Fewer Cellphone Users in China May Suggest a High CCP Virus Death Toll
Using the Name ‘CCP Virus’ Holds Chinese Regime Responsible for Global Crisis, Expert Says

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Pelosi Says Free Virus Testing, Treatment Could Be in Next Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that free testing for the CCP virus could be in the next bill that Congress takes up, in addition to treatment for those who test positive for the new illness from China.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The Senate passed a package late Wednesday and includes billions for small business loans and a payout of $1,200 for many Americans.
Some of the components were inserted by Democrats but others are still on the table for future pieces of legislation, Pelosi told reporters in Washington.
“There are so many things we didn’t get in any of these bills yet in a way that we need to,” she said.
The pandemic forced Congress to quickly take action, including passing an initial bill that provided $8.3 billion for research and testing and another bill that provided money for masks and other items. The third bill is focused on mitigating the economic loss.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) leaves the Senate floor at the US Capitol in Washington on March 25, 2020. (Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images)
Lawmakers will next turn to economic recovery, including creating jobs to help people recover from the situation, according to the Democratic House leader.
Pelosi also wants to better define who qualifies for family and medical leave, bolster Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workers, a 15 percent increase in food stamps, and more money sent to state and local governments, including treating the District of Columbia as a state in terms of the distribution of funds.
There’s also the matter of a proposal on pensions that Pelosi claimed is supported by Republican President Donald Trump but was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who said the proposal could be in the next bill.
Democrats will also insist on free testing, according to Pelosi.
“We said free testing, free testing, free testing, but with free testing is the visit to the doctor’s office, the treatment that goes with it, and that has to be free as well,” she said.
Pelosi ripped Republicans, who she alleged made a version of the bill focused on corporations that was transformed by Democrats to a “bubble-up, worker-first, family-first legislation.” Later in the press conference, she called for working together “in the most bipartisan way possible to get the job done as soon as possible.”
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Networks Cut Away From Trump Virus Briefings Despite Massive Ratings

Cable and network broadcasters have started to cut away from President Donald Trump’s daily briefings on the CCP virus epidemic, despite their apparent popularity with Americans.
ABC, CBS, and NBC all covered Trump at the beginning of Monday’s briefing, which began about 6:10 p.m. ET. After 20 minutes, they switched to the network evening newscasts, never to return to Trump. The president spoke until shortly after 8 p.m.
Trump has been filling the public in on the government’s steps to counter the CCP virus, also known as the novel coronavirus, which broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan around November and was allowed to spread around the world due to the coverup by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The cable news networks have given Trump blanket coverage for his briefings, but CNN cut away on March 23 at around 7:20 p.m. MSNBC followed within five minutes.
“If the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions,” CNN commented on its decision.
MSNBC, through a spokesperson, said that “we cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”
The network’s top host, Rachel Maddow, had said on the evening of March 20 that television networks should no longer show Trump live. She cited examples of what she called false or misleading statements the president had made in past briefings.
“All of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly,” she said. “It’s going to cost lives.”
Conservative political commentator Bill Whittle called the broadcasters’ decisions “an indication that the president is doing a pretty good job.”
In his view, the media are tuning out because airing the briefings unedited shows Trump acting counter to a narrative pushed by a number of media outlets that he’s incompetent and tyrannical.
“Why on earth would a news agency carry the president’s daily address, buttressed by any number of scientific experts, on the daily progress of this worldwide pandemic?” he said jokingly in a March 26 video posted on his YouTube channel.
“Why on earth would you want that live? Why can’t we just sent cameras there so that we can edit out the parts that we don’t like, edit together the things that were actually said in such a way as to make him look like an idiot or a tyrant and then we can re-control the media, rather re-control the story, re-control the narrative. When you hear people saying that President Trump should not be giving the press conferences live, that’s all the evidence you need that he’s doing a good job.”
Soaring Ratings
Trump’s briefings have had droves of Americans tuning in, nearly tripling ratings for that time slot.
Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC attracted 8.28 million viewers for Trump’s March 20 briefing, with nearly half of them watching Fox. The audience for those networks a year earlier was 2.82 million, according to ratings agency Nielsen.
The March 23 briefing had 12.2 million viewers, with Fox capturing more than half, The New York Post reported.
Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings have continued to climb. A Gallup poll had him at 49 percent on March 22, the best of his presidency so far by the pollster, which also reported that 60 percent of Americans approved of his handling of the virus.
On the virus response, “nearly all Republicans” (93 percent) approved of Trump and almost a third of Democrats (29 percent) did too.
“Democrats’ approval on this measure well exceeds their overall 13% rating for Trump in the same poll,” Gallup said.
The epidemic pushed out much of the focus previously on the 2020 presidential elections, including the Democratic primary, now reduced to two contenders—former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
The virus has forced both of the candidates to cease much of their campaign activities. Sanders held a live online town hall on the outbreak on March 24. By the afternoon of March 26, the video had attracted less than 80,000 views on Sanders’s official YouTube channel and nearly 800,000 on Facebook. Biden held a virtual briefing on the virus’s impact on young Americans on March 25. The video had some 10,000 views on his YouTube channel and less than 200,000 on his Facebook by the afternoon of March 26.
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Massive CCP Virus Relief Measure Includes $400 Million Bonanza for Left’s ‘Democracy Reform’ Movement

WASHINGTON—Nestled among the 12 titles and 880 pages of the $2.2 trillion “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020” approved unanimously by the Senate late Wednesday is a paragraph sending $400 million to state governments “to help prepare for the 2020 election.”
The provision’s senatorial proponents promise it will enable state election officials to increase the ability of citizens nationwide “to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers,” according to a summary prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
It accounts for a mere 0.018 percent of the overall measure’s $2.2 trillion in federal expenditures, but the provision is “a rare victory” gained by “an unusually intense and coordinated lobbying campaign by some of the major players in the democracy reform movement,” according to its chief media voice, The Fulcrum.
The Fulcrum is published by Issue One, a Washington-based non-profit advocacy group that grew out of the drive for public funding of congressional campaigns and growing fears among liberal activists that corrupt “dark money is flooding our elections.”
Officially, the $400 million was included due to worries that the CCP Virus would mar the November election as millions of Americans would not vote for fear of being exposed to the deadly disease.
But, as The Fulcrum story and the Democratic summary make clear, much more than health concerns were at work behind the scenes as Congress wrestled in recent weeks with three major coronavirus response measures.
Senators Amy Kloubachar (D-Minn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) were the chief advocates on the Senate side. In a March 16 Washington Post op-ed, the duo wrote:
“The best way to ensure that this virus doesn’t keep people from the ballot box is to bring the ballot box to them. We must allow every American the ability to vote by mail.
“And we must expand early voting so that voters who are not able to vote by mail are not exposed to the elevated infection risks of long lines and crowded polling locations.”
On the House side, a more aggressive package of like-minded election reforms was included by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in her Democratic alternative to the measure approved by the Senate.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) described Pelosi’s proposals as “nothing but a dangerous ploy to federalize elections,” especially a “ballot harvesting” provision allowing “political operatives in every state … to come to a voter’s house to pick up their ballot and deliver it to the polling location.”
Pelosi’s other proposals mandated polling places be within walking distance of public transportation, barred election officials from requiring identification from voters seeking absentee ballots, permitted high school students to be poll watchers, and allowed ballots to be cast from any location.
Catherine Englebrecht, president of Houston-based anti-voting fraud group True the Vote, told The Epoch Times such reforms “take a blowtorch to election integrity,” adding that she had “held out hope that we wouldn’t see these kinds of exploitive tactics right now. But no. Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Pelosi’s alternative bill stalled, however, and, according to The Fulcrum,  “the groups mounting the most aggressive lobbying campaigns—including Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Unite America, the National Vote at Home Institute and Issue One—soon realized that new federal mandates were a lost cause and focused instead on delivering money to the states.”
Meredith McGehee, Issue One’s executive director, told The Epoch Times Thursday that “the whole point here is not to be too prescriptive at the federal level,” adding that “if the effort is perceived as being too prescriptive, it will never get past the Senate whether or not the Republicans are currently in control or down at 47.”
McGehee described Pelosi’s proposals as “the marker bill that the Democrats needed to do,” but “there was always during the past two weeks a discussion on what do we need to do now just to focus first on making sure there are safe and secure elections at the same time these other issues were floating around.”
Those “other issues” will likely stick around because, according to Democratic reformers, another $1.6 billion will be needed in coming months to ensure a safe and healthy November election.
Davis told The Epoch Times Thursday that the $400 million in the Senate coronavirus bill “is not the top-down nationalized approach the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi wanted in their bill and they tried to push on numerous occasions.”
The Illinois Republican said the Senate bill “means our local election officials are going to get more money to open more polling stations, buy hand sanitizer and put in new hygiene methods, stuff that many rural election officials can’t do now.”
Davis said he is “surprised some of these groups that want to take over and nationalize our elections” aren’t viewing the $2 billion estimate of needed election funds as “a down payment.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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President Trump Announces Extension of Real ID Compliance Date

President Donald Trump confirmed that his Administration will extend the deadline for States to comply with the Real ID security requirements. The president told reporters that because of the social distancing requirements initiated to combat the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, citizens cannot be standing in lines at the DMV.
“I’m also announcing that we’re postponing the deadline for compliance with REAL ID requirements. At a time when we’re asking Americans to maintain social distancing, we do [not] want to require people to go with their local DMV.  We will be announcing the new deadline very soon.”
The Real ID Act was a security measure that was enacted after 9/11 and requires basic and uniform standards for how licenses are issued across the United States and Federal agencies cannot accept “for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.”
The Department of Homeland Security previously set Oct. 1, 2020, as the date travelers had to have the Real ID, but has not yet announced the new compliance date.
The United States Travel Associations issued a statement Monday applauding the Trump administration’s decision to postpone the Real ID deadline.
“The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to REAL ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus crisis. Clearly the administration understands that the economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be terrible if the REAL ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling. To get this economy moving again, people need to be able to move again.”
Senator Jon Tester (R-Mo.) also voiced his support the Real ID extension.
“Montanans should be worried about keeping their families healthy, not standing in line at the DMV to fill out government paperwork,” Tester said. “This measure will help slow the spread of the coronavirus and ensure Montanans remain compliant with the law while keeping Montana families safe.”
U.S. Travel Association further clarified why the extension is necessary, as citizens’ anxieties about the CCP virus make staying healthy a priority, not standing in line at their local DMV.
“As of October 2019, an estimated 99 million Americans do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or an acceptable alternative identification (e.g. passport), and a majority of Americans (57%) are unaware of the October 1, 2020 deadline for enforcement. This could mean tens of millions of passengers are turned away on October 1, 2020 for not having the necessary documents to fly.”
Whenever the new compliance date is announced, any person 18 years of age and older will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, state-issued enhanced driver’s license, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States.
A star at the top of the card distinguishes REAL ID-compliant cards.
DHS originally announced the Real ID as part of a comprehensive national security strategy. The Real ID would enable law enforcement officials to vet travelers and trust that they are who they claim to be.
The REAL ID Act, was first passed by Congress in 2005 enacts and recommends that the federal government, “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

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Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Gets Tested for COVID-19 After Flu-like Symptoms

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) is experiencing flu-like symptoms and has undergone testing for COVID-19, according to her spokesperson.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
Pressley’s spokesperson, Lina Francis, said Wednesday that the Massachusetts congressional delegate is awaiting the results of the COVID-19 test.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) speaks as Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) listen during a news conference in Washington, on July 15, 2019. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Pressley is the second member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation to experience symptoms of the respiratory illness.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) speaks at a campaign event in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 21, 2019. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said Wednesday he decided to self-quarantine after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Moulton, a former presidential hopeful, sought medical advice and was told that because the symptoms were minor and a test would not change his treatment, he did not qualify for a test.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) speaks during the 2020 Public Service Forum hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nev., on Aug. 3, 2019. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Another recent congressional representative to announce flu-like symptoms is California Rep. Katie Porter, who said she, too, has been tested.
“Over the weekend, I had a fever over 100.4 degrees. As instructed, I continued to isolate in my bedroom and phoned my provider. I carefully followed all instructions to visit my doctor and received a test for COVID-19. I am waiting for results,” she said in a tweet earlier Wednesday.

P.S. My children are so far healthy and handling things well, and I did make sure to wear a mask! pic.twitter.com/y4wiRL9RHG
— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) March 25, 2020

State Rep. Mike Day is the first member of the Massachusetts Legislature to test positive for COVID-19, according to WBUR. The outlet reported Day announced he would go into quarantine for over two weeks.
The number of people in Massachusetts who have died from COVID-19 reached 15 on Wednesday. Public health officials said the number of residents who have so far tested positive for the disease jumped to more than 1,800. Nearly 19,800 have been tested and 103 have been hospitalized.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped the 1,000 milestone as the pandemic’s mounting economic burden was illustrated by government data on Thursday showing a record number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits and hospitals struggled to treat a surge of infected patients.
For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with pre-existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, typically between people who are in close contact with one another and via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
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Senate Rejects GOP Pushback on Expanded Unemployment Insurance in Relief Bill

Ahead of last night’s unanimous passage of the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, four Republican senators sought to change enhanced unemployment insurance benefits included in the gargantuan package.
The four senators pressed for the changes to bill over concerns that the final version of the package would incentivize people not to go back to work.
“A massive drafting error in the current version of the coronavirus relief legislation could have devastating consequences: Unless this bill is fixed, there is a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work,” Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon. “This isn’t an abstract, philosophical point—it’s an immediate, real-world problem.”
Joined by Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the four sought to amend the bill to cap unemployment benefits at 100 percent of an individual’s salary before they are laid off.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, on Sep. 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images)
“I plan to support this legislation tonight, but I do want to fix it first,” said Scott (S.C.), The Hill reports. “The goal is simply to keep you whole while you’re unemployed because of COVID-19.”
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.

Sen. Tim Scott, (R-S.C.) talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on June 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
The relief bill enhances unemployment benefits to the tune of an additional $600 a week over and above any state benefits, for a period of four months.
“It has unemployment insurance on steroids,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. “But, and most importantly, the federal government will pay your salary, your full salary for now four months.”
The four GOP senators argued that the agreement would reduce the incentive to work.
“Something hit me like a ton of bricks … Under this bill you get $23.15 an hour based on a 40-hour work week not to work,” Graham said Wednesday, according to The Hill. “We’ve created Pandora’s box for our economy.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks to media during a break in impeachment proceedings, in the Senate subway area in the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 28, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
There was bipartisan opposition to the amendment forwarded by the four GOP senators.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the Department of Labor indicated that a state-by-state cap could not be harmonized nationwide because of differences in state unemployment systems.
“The way you want to calculate it, we’re told cannot be done,” Durbin said, the Hill reports.

Sen. Richard Durbin speaks at a conference in Washington on Nov. 20, 2009. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a tweet: “Let’s not over-complicate this. Several Republican Senators are holding up the bipartisan Coronavirus emergency bill because they think the bill is too good for laid off Americans.
“Each state has a different UI program, so the drafters opted for a temporary across-the-board UI boost of $600, which can deliver needed aid in a timely manner rather than burning time to create a different administrative regime for each state,” a Senate GOP aide said, as cited by The Hill. “It’s also important to remember that nobody who voluntarily leaves an available job is eligible for UI.”
Senators rejected the amendment in a 48-48 vote and later passed, by 96 votes to none, what is poised to become the largest ever fiscal stimulus measure ever passed by Congress.
The unanimous vote, a rare departure from bitter partisanship in Washington, underscored how seriously members of Congress are taking the global pandemic as Americans suffer and the medical system reels.
The package is intended to flood the country with cash in a bid to stem the crushing impact on the economy of an intensifying epidemic that has killed more than 900 people in the United States and infected at least 60,000.
It follows two others that became law this month. The money at stake amounts to nearly half of the total $4.7 trillion the U.S. government spends annually.
President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign the bill as soon as it passes the House, expressed approval on Twitter. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.
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House Plans Friday Vote for Virus Relief Package Passed by Senate

The House of Representatives plans to vote on Friday for a $2 trillion emergency relief package passed by the Senate late Wednesday.
Directing representatives to the text of the bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told them at 11:21 p.m. on Wednesday night that the House would convene on Friday morning to consider the bill.
Pelosi aims to pass the bill by voice vote because of “limited flight options, Members participating in self-quarantine, and several states mandating stay-at-home orders.”
Two representatives have tested positive for the CCP virus and others have entered quarantine or live in states where governors have ordered or advised people to stay at home unless they’re taking essential trips.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to news reporters ahead of a vote on the CCP virus relief bill on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 25, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
Pelosi said in a statement late Wednesday that amid the pandemic, “urgent action continues to be needed to address this threat to the lives and livelihood of the American people.”
“On Friday, the House will take up the legislation with strong bipartisan support,” she wrote.
House Republican leaders are also recommending passage of the bill, which passed 96-0 in the Senate, as is President Donald Trump.
The package “is bigger than anything, I believe, ever passed in Congress,” Trump told reporters in Washington.
The voice vote comes with potential complications because one lawmaker could call for a recorded, or roll call, vote, forcing lawmakers to vote in person.
Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), a critic of the bill, said on Wednesday he wouldn’t block it if both parties supported the legislation.
“If they have majorities to pass it, then objecting to unanimous consent merely delays the inevitable,” Amash wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during a campaign event with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at La Poste in Perry, Iowa, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Other critics signaled they might act, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).
“I’m open” to asking for a recorded vote “if necessary,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN.
The 880-page piece of legislation, called the ‘‘Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ or the ‘‘CARES Act,’” includes one-time payments of $1,200 to any American making less than $75,000 a year and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000.
Parents would receive $500 per child.
Individuals or couples making over the limits will still get money, but payments will be reduced by $5 for each $100 over the threshold they make.
The limits are tied to 2019 tax returns or, if they’re not available, 2018 tax returns. People who didn’t file returns can use other forms such as a Social Security Benefit Statement.
The bill designates $250 billion for extending unemployment insurance, both to more workers and for more time.
Other aspects include $349 billion for loans for small businesses, $200 billion in tax assistance to small businesses, and $58 billion for airlines.
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Trump Approves Florida Disaster Declaration Due to COVID-19

President Donald Trump on March 25 approved a disaster declaration for the state of Florida, ordering federal assistance to help state and local recovery efforts amid the CCP virus pandemic.
The move comes just days after Florida governor Ron DeSantis asked Trump in a letter to declare the state a disaster area, saying the COVID-19 outbreak is having a “drastic effect” on Florida’s economy and medical providers.
His letter to the president released late Monday says Florida’s hospitals and first responders are facing challenges rarely experienced. DeSantis wrote that the state has already spent $208 million and its medical system is burdened.
DeSantis added that a survey of more than 6,600 businesses shows more than half have laid off employees, totaling more than 40,400 people. He also said requests for unemployment benefits have spiked to 130,000 in four days last week, compared to 28,000 for the entire previous week.
As of Wednesday evening, the state of Florida reported 1,977 cases of the CCP virus—including and 23 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health. Confirmed infections rose by 510 from Tuesday.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The declaration will make federal funding available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance for all areas in Florida impacted by COVID-19, the White House announced in a news release Wednesday.
It will also provide funding for crisis counseling for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak in the state, and for emergency protective measures.
The White House added that additional designations may be made in the future if requested by the state.
The president has also approved major disaster declarations for New York, California, Washington, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. The disaster declarations will allow federal funding for state and some local governments as well as certain private nonprofit organizations. The president has dubbed the declarations as of “legal significance.”

.@potus has approved @GovRonDeSantis request for a Major Disaster Declaration for #Florida. This will make available much needed resources in the war against #COVID2019. Thank you!
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2020

Responding to news of the declaration, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) thanked the president on Twitter.
“This will make available much needed resources in the war against #COVID2019. Thank you!” Rubio wrote.

Thank you, President @realDonaldTrump for approving Florida’s Disaster Declaration which will provide federal funds to help communities recover from the effects of #COVID19. We are prepared for the fight ahead and will come out stronger than ever before. pic.twitter.com/PJXdL687G2
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 25, 2020

DeSantis also thanked Trump, adding that the declaration will “provide federal funds to help communities recover from the effects of #COVID19.”
“We are prepared for the fight ahead and will come out stronger than ever before,” he tweeted.
Stay-at-Home Order ‘Inappropriate’
DeSantis said on Wednesday he won’t be ordering residents to stay at home because of the way the virus has spread in the state.
“There’s certain parts of the state where you have more sporadic cases,” the governor told reporters in Orlando. “To order someone not to be able to earn a paycheck when them going to work is not going to have any effect on what we’re doing with the virus, that is something that I think is inappropriate.”
The Trump administration supports the approach Florida is taking, DeSantis said. He also noted that counties and cities in southeast Florida, where the virus has spread extensively, have told residents to stay at home, including Miami Beach.
“I worked with them on that,” he said, adding that any local jurisdiction is free to issue a stay at home order.
Zachary Stieber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Millions of Personal Protective Items Being Sent to ‘Areas of Greatest Need’: Trump

President Donald Trump on Wednesday provided a brief update on critical health supplies amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and said that the country is now conducting more testing than any other in the world.
At a daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump said that the federal government is in the process of shipping some 9.4 million N95 respirators, 20 million surgical masks, 3.1 million face shields, 2.6 million surgical gowns, 14.6 million gloves, and almost 6,000 ventilators “to the areas of greatest need.”
“We sent over the last day 4,000 ventilators to New York,” he added.
The president has approved major disaster declarations for New York, California, Washington, Iowa, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. The disaster declarations will allow federal funding to start flowing to state and some local governments, as well as certain private nonprofit organizations.
Trump also said that the United States is “doing more testing than anybody by far,” adding that he had recently spoken with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“They’ve done a very good job at testing,” Trump said. “But we now are doing more testing than anybody by far. We do more in eight days than they do in eight weeks. And we go up on a daily basis exponentially.”
On Tuesday, White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that the United States had conducted more testing in the last eight days than South Korea had in eight weeks. At the time, she said the United States was doing about 50,000 to 70,000 tests a day.
“The news, the reporters, the media always like to bring South Korea,” the president said on Thursday. “They [South Korea] called me, they told me ‘it’s amazing, your testing procedures are amazing.’ Plus we have a test that’s a very high-level test and it’s a test that’s very accurate.”
The American Enterprise Institute started a tracker of America’s testing capacity, which is projecting that the United States will conduct 100,000 or more COVID-19 tests per day by March 27.
‘Ridiculous’ to Test Entire Population: Trump
One reporter asked the president about the possibility of testing all Americans and quarantining of those who need to be isolated, while allowing the rest to return to work.
“We have some big problems but confined to certain high-density areas,” Trump said. “Why would we test the entire nation of 350 million people?”
He noted that a lot of states with lower infection numbers “could go back [to work] right now, and they probably will because, at some point in the not too distant future, certain states are going to come off the rolls.”
“Maybe New York can’t and maybe California can’t. Maybe the state of Washington can’t, although if you look at them, their biggest problem was in one nursing home,” he added.
“We have the ability to test, we have come a long way from an obsolete, broken system I inherited. We have tested with the best test, far more than anybody else. When I say anybody else, other countries, no country is even close,” he said.
But he added, “I don’t want to test 350 million people. I think it’s ridiculous.”
Self-Swab Tests On The Way
White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx announced on Monday that self-swab COVID-19 tests will be available soon.
The tests will allow people to collect their own samples using a nasal swab while self-isolating. They or someone else would then take the sample to an authorized clinical or drive-through testing site and receive their results that same day, making the process simpler and possibly safer.
Confirmed cases of the CCP virus continue to rise in the United States as testing and access to it improves, and as testing centers work to clear a backlog of samples.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China before it was transmitted worldwide.
The United States has more than 69,000 cases of the CCP virus and more than 1,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on March 25.
The Coronavirus Task Force is urging all Americans to adhere to the “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign to urgently reduce the spread of the virus. Trump said on Tuesday that his administration will assess regulations surrounding business activity after the 15 days of recommended social distancing measures.
Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy

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Senate Passes $2 Trillion Emergency Relief Package to Get Families, Businesses Healthcare Through Pandemic

The U.S. Senate unanimously voted late Wednesday to pass a $2.2 trillion emergency relief package to help protect American livelihoods, hospitals, and an economy rattled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 96-0 vote in the Senate means the bill will now move to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote sometime this week.
“I encourage the house to pass this vital legislation and send it to my desk for signature without delay. I will sign it immediately,” Trump said earlier on Wednesday during his daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
“The Senate is going to stand together, act together, and pass this historic relief package today,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The 880-page measure, the third coronavirus response bill produced by Congress, is the largest-ever rescue package in U.S. history. It builds on previous funding efforts focused on vaccines and emergency response, sick and family medical leave for workers, and food aid.
The latest bill includes $350 billion in job retention loans for small businesses that will supply eight weeks of salaries, with loan forgiveness available as long as businesses keep up with overheads and employing their workers.
It also includes a $500 billion program for guaranteed, subsidized loans to larger industries, including airlines.
Hospitals are expected to receive at least $100 billion to deal with the incoming flood of COVID-19 patients. The bill also provides $45 billion to fund additional relief efforts through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local emergency response and community services.
Americans are set to receive a one-time direct payment of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 per married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.
The package also provides up to $250 billion in expanded unemployment benefits, intended to help replace the salaries of furloughed workers for up to four months. Furloughed workers will get whatever amount their state usually provides for unemployment, plus a $600 per week add-on. Independent contractors and those who are self-employed will, for the first time, be eligible for the benefits.
Several Republican senators on Wednesday insisted that the bill be amended to ensure that laid-off workers would not be paid more in unemployment benefits than they earn at their job. But an amendment that would have changed the provision failed just before the Senate approved the relief package.
Democrats earlier twice blocked the $2 trillion emergency package.
Last night, White House official Eric Ueland said that the White House and the Republican senators seeking the amendment had reached an agreement on the relief package, allowing the amendment to go to vote.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
The pandemic has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States and infected more than 69,000 to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Confirmed cases of the CCP virus continue to rise in the United States as testing improves and testing centers work through the backlog in samples.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Lawmakers Consider Proxy Vote for COVID-19 Relief Bill Amid Infection Concerns

With at least two members of the House of Representatives testing positive for COVID-19, calls are mounting for alternative voting procedures if the $2 trillion economic rescue package cannot be passed by unanimous consent, meaning no lawmakers would have to be present for the vote.
Failing that, the best option would be a proxy vote, according to House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who said voting remotely was off the table.
Speaking by phone to C-SPAN on March 25, McGovern said the best option would be to pass the economic rescue package by voice vote, or unanimous consent, neither of which requires the full House to be present.
“If we can’t do bipartisan consent, we’re going to have to find other ways,” McGovern said. “Some people are suggesting we vote remotely. Others are suggesting maybe proxy voting. That would, again, have to adjust the rules.”
“We have some constitutional challenges, logistical challenges, security challenges,” he said of the alternatives. “Even though some of these things sound simple and matter-of-fact, in real life it’s pretty complicated.”

Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) walks past a statue of Benjamin Franklin in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on March 24, 2020. (Reuters/Al Drago)
In a new report published Monday, McGovern concluded that if unanimous consent fails, a proxy vote would be a viable alternative.
“The House could implement proxy voting, in which an absent Member gives a present Member their proxy to cast an actual vote for them, for a prescribed period of time,” McGovern wrote in the report, calling it “the best of the options available under the circumstances.”
“If universal agreement is not reached, a time-limited change like enhanced unanimous consent or proxy voting could be adopted to help the House function,” he said in the report.
Proxy voting would let members cast votes without traveling back to Washington, and would involve authorizing a present Member to cast a vote on their behalf.
“This is a moment of national emergency,” McGovern wrote in a letter accompanying the report. “It is imperative that we act swiftly in the weeks and months ahead in a way that preserves the integrity of the institution so that we can continue to respond not just to this crisis, but future emergencies as well.”
It’s unclear how much support that proposal would have. Asked if House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) supported it, a spokesman said it was not “a preferable option.”
“Some of our members are quarantined,” said Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), on Twitter. “We need to figure out proxy vote option for quarantined members, which is currently not in house rules in event of pandemic.”
“Parliaments in Europe have also grappled with this issue and have been making rapid changes,” Haley added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks outside her office on Capitol Hill, Washington, on March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
‘Wartime Level of Investment’
Negotiators said Wednesday that U.S. senators and Trump administration officials reached an agreement on the massive economic stimulus bill.
The Senate will vote on the $2 trillion package later in the day and the House is expected to follow suit soon after.
“This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a speech announcing the pact after days of negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and other top aides to President Donald Trump.
“We’re going to pass this legislation later today,” McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to media at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 5, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the measure “the largest rescue package in American history,” describing it as a “Marshall Plan” for hospitals and medical needs, in a reference to the U.S.-funded program that helped rebuild Europe after World War Two.
“Help is on the way, big help and quick help,” Schumer said.
The text of the pact was not due to be available until later on Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks to media after the closing arguments of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in Washington on Feb. 3, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
McConnell said the package would rush checks to help Americans pay bills during job layoffs related to the outbreak, expand unemployment insurance, and deliver emergency loans to small businesses.
It would also “stabilize key national industries” and provide financial help for hospitals and healthcare providers struggling to get equipment for sick patients, he added.
The stimulus package had been expected to boost the economy with a massive infusion of aid, including a $500 billion fund to help hard-hit industries with loans, and a comparable amount for direct payments of up to $3,000 to millions of American families.
Other provisions are expected to include $350 billion for small-business loans and $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid.
Schumer said it also included $100 billion for hospitals and health systems, along with additional money for other health care needs.
Another $150 billion would go to help state and local governments fight the outbreak.
Schumer said Democrats won strict oversight rules for the hundreds of billions of dollars in loans on offer to U.S. industries.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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Speaker Nancy Pelosi Confirms that Phase 3 Relief Bill is Nearing Finish Line

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday morning that the revised Phase 3 relief package to combat the economic effect of the pandemic is much closer to what the Democrats want and will likely be finalized after review.
Pelosi said that the bipartisan legislation is much closer to “meeting the needs of the American people.”
She praised the House Democrats for their unity and tenacity in reaching a compromise. She said while the bill did not go as far as the Democrat’s Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act, it gets much closer to Democrat’s targets than the original Phase 3 bill.
“America is facing a grave health crisis with a serious impact on our economy. I salute the strong leadership of Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats. I especially thank our House Democratic Committee Chairmen, who worked hard to move the Republican proposal from corporations-focused to workers-first and who will now review the legislative text of this agreement with our Caucus.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Senate Leader also sent out a hopeful message late last night about the CCP virus relief Phase 3 bill being closer to the finish line.
“At last, we have a deal. After days of intense discussions, the Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement on a historic relief package for this pandemic. We’re going to pass this legislation later today,” Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a tweet early Wednesday night.
The new package would give direct payments of up to $3,000 to most U.S. families and provide some $367 billion to a program for small-business loans to help them keep making payroll as workers are forced to stay home due to orders in several states across the country.
The package also includes a $500 billion fund for guaranteed, subsidized loans to help larger industries, $250 billion for expanded unemployment aid, and $75 billion for hospitals.
Democrats twice blocked the $2 trillion package prior to the agreement. They argued that the package did not do enough for small businesses or the American workers, and gave too much to big corporations.
“What we need to do is be focusing on the people that have really been affected. That’s the people on small businesses front lines that are sent home with no hope whatsoever and no unemployment compensation. I’m just not in favor of bailing out for the sake of bailing out people that got the greatest tax breaks in the world.” Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said last Thursday.
The Speaker highlighted five amendments to the latest Phase 3 bill she was most pleased with; the large investments in hospitals, securing an increase in unemployment insurance benefits for both laid-off and furloughed workers, large relief for small businesses, emergency education and loan repayment funding, and accountability and oversight for bailouts.
“House Democrats will now review the final provisions and legislative text of the agreement to determine a course of action,” Pelosi said.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global
The pandemic has killed more than 800 people in the United States and infected more than 55,000 to date, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

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Sen. Toomey Lays Out What to Expect From Virus Relief Bill

WASHINGTON—A “dramatic increase in unemployment benefits by about $600 per person” is included in the nearly $2 trillion CCP Virus economic relief package agreed upon by negotiators in the early hours of March 25, according to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
The $600 boost is “on top of whatever their state provides … so this is a very, very significant increase, typically more than doubling of peoples’ unemployment insurance benefits,” Toomey told reporters during an extended teleconference.
Toomey was one of the main Republican negotiators on the critical fourth section of the massive package dealing with financial assistance for individuals, small businesses, and corporations.
Toomey acknowledged that “we are going to have a staggeringly large number of people applying for unemployment in coming weeks.”
The direct financial assistance to individuals and married couples will equal $1,200 for the former and $2,400 for the latter, plus a $500 per child.
“So, if you are a married couple with two kids, it is $3,400 that you are going to be receiving in a matter of a couple of weeks,” Toomey said. “This will be a big help to individuals who are out of work.”
The Pennsylvania Republican said the package’s priority for small businesses and large corporations is to “encourage and to enable businesses to keep workers on their payroll, to keep people employed.”
To that end, the package includes multiple provisions aimed specifically to help both sectors of the economy.
For small businesses, the package includes “a small business loan program, an extremely generous program that is meant to be run through the Small Business Administration” working through local banks and with federal guarantees. Businesses with up to 500 employees would be eligible for loans of up to $10 million each.
“Here’s the big thing, the amount of the loan that is used to pay for payroll and interest on the mortgage and rent is going to be forgiven, so a company that keeps its workforce and has these ongoing expenses, the government is going to be picking up the tab for that in the form of a loan that will not have to be paid back,” Toomey explained.
“We have never done anything like this before,” he said.
In addition, Toomey said the package suspends the employer’s share of payroll taxes for two years.
“The biggest single piece in this whole thing is the money that we are going to be using to provide a credit facility for businesses that need access to credit,” he said.
The two components of the business aid part of the relief package includes, first, $46 billion in highly structured aid for specific industries, including the airlines, firms judged to be critical to national security, and cargo carriers. Toomey does not expect defense contractor Boeing to receive such assistance.
The package does not include new airline emissions standards that was demanded by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif).
Second, there is $454 billion for the Treasury Department to capitalize lenders through the Federal Reserve as Government Sponsored Entities (GSE).
“We hope to stand up a very broad base of lending facilities that could be leveraged up to two or three trillion dollars,” he said, explaining that “we’re hoping this is a mechanism to keep business alive for a few weeks or months until our economy can resume.”
Toomey said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “has a tremendous amount of latitude” on how a $25 billion portion of the $46 billion will be provided. He expects the funds to be allocated on some basis among the airlines, with the government receiving equity in return.
But the federal government will not take an active equity stake in any of the firms receiving loans via the package. Toomey expects the stake to most likely be some form of options feature like a warrant.
“We’ve made it very clear that if the federal government ends up with stock of any kind in any of these companies, it may not vote the stock, it cannot exercise any voting rights,” Toomey said.
Toomey expressed great frustration with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pelosi regarding oversight of the immense lending authority being created.
“The thing that took a long time is that while the Democrats went down to the Senate floor and attacked Republicans for creating this ‘big corporate bailout slush fund,’ which we insisted all had to be paid back. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, they were insisting that we give away money to airlines,” he said.
Asked by The Epoch Times if he expects Pelosi to seek additional negotiations, Toomey said “no, I certainly don’t think so” because she was involved in the negotiations from Sunday on.
“I will be surprised if she doesn’t find a way to expedite passage of this bill in the House,” he added.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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Federally Funded Radio Station Refuses to Carry Trump’s Live Press Conferences

A public radio station that relies in part on federal funding is refusing to carry live press conference from the White House, a move that provoked widespread ire and calls of censorship.
President Donald Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which features the top medical experts in the country, have been giving daily briefings from Washington, disseminating updates from the response to the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Media outlets have been airing the briefings live but KUOW Public Radio, based in Seattle, said Tuesday it would no longer do so.
“KUOW is monitoring White House briefings for the latest news on the coronavirus—and we will continue to share all news relevant to Washington State with our listeners,” the station said in a statement.
“However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time,” it added.
The station didn’t immediately respond to a request for further information on its decision.
KUOW is a member station of NPR, a nonprofit media organization that is funded in part by the federal government. According to NPR, its member stations get four percent of their funding from federal, state, and local governments.
NPR says that “federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public” and that “elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities.”
The Seattle station says on its website that it opened a new broadcast center in Seattle in 1999, funding in part by tax-exempt bonds. It says that over 92 percent of its revenue comes from contributions from people, businesses, and corporations.
Most organizations have carried the press conferences, which can last for up to around two hours, live through the duration but on Monday NBC, CBS, CNN, and ABC switched to other programming before the briefing ended. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere called what happened “pretty disgraceful” and thanked Fox News, which aired the briefing in its entirety.
Broadcasters indicated similar situations may arise in the future.
“If the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions,” CNN said in a statement.
Fact Checks
KUOW has published a number of “fact checks” on its website written by NPR reporters, including ones examining Trump’s comparisons between the new illness and the flu and Trump comparing the Defense Production Act to nationalization.
Fact checks are pieces examining claims and statements, often made by government officials.
One piece looked at Trump’s response to a reporter who asked whether the president shares a prognosis by the Surgeon General, who said this week “is going to get bad.”
“Of course I do. It’s going be bad, and we have a lot of people dying from the flu, as you know. We have a very bad flu season on top of everything else. It’s very bad. It looks like it could be over 50,000. And certainly this is going to be bad, and we’re trying to make it so that it’s much, much less bad. And that’s what we’re doing,” Trump responded.
The author of NPR’s article shared statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that estimates there have been 23,000 deaths from the flu during the current flu season.
“While flu can send hundreds of thousands of people to the hospital each year, the seasonal effect is reasonably well understood and planned for. The comparison between flu and COVID-19 doesn’t capture the strain that the new coronavirus is putting on hospitals. COVID-19 is a new disease that is hard to predict,” the author wrote.
“And the surge in cases requiring intensive care that was seen in China and now in Italy can lead to a health system’s collapse.”
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Pelosi Reacts to Virus Stimulus Deal, Declines to Say When House Will Vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said staffers and representatives are reviewing the stimulus deal reached in the Senate overnight Tuesday while declining to commit to a vote in the House on Wednesday.
“We have our staff and our chairman reviewing the bill. I’m optimistic but we’ll see,” Pelosi told reporters at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Asked if the House could vote as early as today, Pelosi said: “No, we haven’t seen the bill yet. The Senate will vote first.”
“We’ll see the bill and see when the Senate votes,” she added. “So there’s no decision about timing until we see the bill.”
The House went into session at 10 a.m. for a brief session before adjourning in less than two minutes. There’s nothing on the schedule until 11 a.m. Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (C) leaves the offices of Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as negotiations continued into the night on a $2 trillion economic stimulus in response to the coronavirus pandemic at the U.S. Capitol on March 24, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, leaves a meeting in Washington on March 24, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Democrats plan to hold several conference calls throughout the day on the deal the Senate reached and plans for voting on the agreement, C-Span’s Craig Caplan reported.
The White House and leaders in the Senate reached a deal on a $2 trillion relief package overnight. The package includes direct payments of up to $3,000 to most American families as well as creating a $367 billion program for small business loans.
“This is a wartime level of investment into our nation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor after the two sides had reached a deal. “The men and women of the greatest country on Earth are going to defeat this coronavirus and reclaim our future.”
Senators said they plan to vote on the package on Wednesday. The Senate was slated to reconvene at 12 p.m.
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US Economy Won’t Function if Healthcare System Is Overrun, Says Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), said Tuesday that the United States won’t return to a functioning economy if hospitals are overrun with patients who have contracted the CCP virus.
Cheney’s comments come as the White House wrestles with how soon local economies throughout the United States should be allowed to resume normal enterprise, or if returning to “normal” would create a collapse of the medical system.
“There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Cheney tweeted on Tuesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked in a recent interview if the U.S. healthcare system is prepared with emergency equipment, like ventilators, for the number of CCP virus cases projected to flood hospitals.
“That may not be enough if we have a situation where we really have a lot of cases,” he said.
The United States has about 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people, while South Korea and Japan, two countries that have seemingly escaped the exponential case growth trajectory, have more than 12 hospital beds per 1,000 people.
According to the CDC, out of the daily confirmed cases of the CCP virus, 12 percent need to be hospitalized. Hospital capacity in urban centers will likely be over-burdened, given the dense populations and growing rate of infections.
Given the percentage of CCP virus cases that will need to be hospitalized, the threat to the healthcare system in urban centers poses a great challenge. For this reason New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the federal government to augment the city’s healthcare system.
President Donald Trump confirmed at a recent Coronavirus Task Force press briefing that the U.S. medical ship the Comfort was going to assist New York in their fight against the virus. “And we are going to be bringing that ship—that’s called the Comfort. So, you have the Mercy and the Comfort. The Comfort is on the East Coast,” Trump said.
But even with the Comfort and its 1,000 beds, New York may still struggle under the weight of CCP virus patients.
“You will have people on gurneys in hallways,” Cuomo said at a press conference on Monday, later adding that New York would need up to 110,000 total hospital beds, around twice the number it currently has. “That is what is going to happen now if we do nothing,” he said.
Authorities nationwide are taking major steps to expand capacity, building tents and outfitting unused spaces to house patients. They also are urging people to postpone elective surgeries, dental work, and veterinarian care. Cuomo has called for using military bases or college dorms as makeshift care centers.
Among the biggest concern is whether there will be enough beds, equipment, and staff to handle several large outbreaks simultaneously in multiple cities.
Fauci said it’s critical that steps be taken now to prevent the virus from spreading quickly.
“The job is to put a full-court press on not allowing the worst-case scenario to occur,” he said.
While Fauci does not expect massive outbreaks in the United States like in Italy, he said there is the possibility that an overwhelming influx of patients could lead to a lack of supplies including ventilators.
“And that’s when you’re going to have to make some very tough decisions,” Fauci said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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US to Reduce Afghan Aid by $1 Billion After Pompeo Visits Kabul

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a $1 billion cut in U.S. aid to Afghanistan after the country’s rival leaders failed to agree on forming a new government.
The decision was made after Pompeo’s urgent visit to Kabul on Monday where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. They have both contested the result of September’s presidential election, raising the prospect of parallel governments as each declared themselves president of the country.

Afghanistan’s Abdullah Abdullah, President Ashraf Ghani’s political rival, meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 23, 2020. Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Office (Handout via Reuters)
Pompeo had hoped to break the deadlock but was unable to, with Ghani and Abdullah informing him that “that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens,” according to a State Department statement.
The political feud between the rival Afghan politicians has stalled the selection of negotiating teams expected to be completed by March 10 for intra-Afghan talks based on the two separate agreements between the United States and Taliban and the United States and Afghanistan.
The failure to resolve the Afghan government crisis “disappointed” the United States, “harmed U.S.-Afghan relations,” and represents “a direct threat to U.S. national interests,” the statement says. The U.S. government therefore reduced the aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion this year and could also reduce it by another $1 billion next year, with the United States unwilling to support parallel governments, according to the statement.
Additional reductions of other programs and projects are also possible. The U.S. government “will initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan,” the statement says.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, at a signing agreement ceremony between members of Afghanistan’s Taliban and the United States in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 29, 2020. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters)
The statement also criticized Afghan leaders for not being able to establish “an inclusive national team for intra-Afghan negotiations, to facilitate prisoner release by Afghanistan and Taliban, and to achieve permanent ceasefire.” However, there have not been attacks on American forces since the peace agreement between the United States and Taliban was signed over three weeks ago, Pompeo said after returning from Afghanistan.
On Tuesday, in a speech carried by Afghan broadcaster RTA, Ghani said the cut in aid would not affect key areas, and further discussions would be held to resolve the issue with Abdullah, according to Reuters.
“I met with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah … and wanted to offer him a central role in the peace process and positions in the cabinet to his allies but he emphasized an amendment of the constitution,” Ghani said, adding the amendment was “impossible.”
Pompeo declined to detail how the $1 billion in aid cuts would be apportioned or whether he set a deadline to settle their dispute, or if there is any timeline set for Afghan leaders to resolve the government dispute.
The United States is ready to cancel the announced cut if Afghan leaders form “an inclusive government that can provide security and participate in the peace process,” the statement says.
“We are hopeful, frankly, that they will get their act together and we won’t have to do it. But we’re prepared to do that,” Pompeo said at the press conference.
“The United States is not abandoning our partnership with Afghanistan, nor our commitment to support the Afghan security forces, but reviewing the scope of our cooperation given the irresponsible actions of Afghan leaders,” the statement says.
However, the assistance of $15 million provided by the United States to Afghanistan to help the country in its combat with the CCP virus will not be impacted by the cuts and will be provided, the statement confirmed.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Pompeo also said that not only the current administration had been working for a long time with all Afghan leaders trying to convince and incentivize them to start negotiations, “the previous administration tried to do it for eight years and wasn’t successful.”
Pompeo also stopped at a military base in Qatar for a 75-minute meeting with Taliban officials, including their top negotiator, Mullah Baradar Akhund. The Taliban had largely reduced violence, as it had promised, and is “working toward delivering their team to the ultimate negotiations,” Pompeo said.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Anyone Who Leaves New York City Must Self-Quarantine for 14 Days: White House Officials

Any person who has left New York City and the New York Metro area must self-quarantine for 14 days since the time they left the area, White House officials announced Tuesday.
“We remain deeply concerned about New York City and the New York metro area,” White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Debbie Birx said. “About 56 percent of all the cases in the United States are coming out of that metro area and 60 percent of all the new cases are coming out of the New York metro area, and 31 percent of people are succumbing to this disease.
“It means that since they still at 31 percent mortality compared to the other regions of the country that we can have a huge impact if we unite together,” Birx said, adding that it is “critical” that everyone is following new presidential guidelines (pdf) put out by the White House Coronavirus Task Force on March 15.
“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the rate of the number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York … Everybody who was in New York should be self-quarantining for the next 14 days to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to far reaches of Long Island.
“We are starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggests people have left the city.
“This will be very critical that those individuals do self-quarantine in their homes over the next 14 days to make sure that they don’t pass the virus to others based on the time that they left New York. So if they’re already 4 days out then it’s just 10 more days.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci (R), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks while President Donald Trump (C) and Vice President Mike Pence, listen during a briefing on the CCP virus pandemic, in the press briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 24, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, concurred with Birx’s assessment and called New York’s situation “very serious.”
“It’s a very serious situation, they’ve [New Yorkers have] suffered terribly through no fault of their own,” he said.
“If you look at the statistics, it’s disturbing, about 1 per 1,000 of these individuals are infected, that’s about eight to ten times more than in other areas,” he said, and noted that New Yorkers are “understandably” wanting to leave the city for other areas in the United States.
“When they go to another place—for their own safety, they’ve got to be careful, monitor themselves, if they get sick bring it to the attention of a physician, get tested,” Fauci said, and again reiterated that a self-isolation of two weeks since leaving New York “will be very important because we don’t want that to be another seeding point for the rest of the country wherever they go.”
Cases of the CCP virus continue to rise in the United States, and New York’s case count appears to be doubling every three days, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York surpassed 25,000 cases on Tuesday and has logged at least 210 deaths due to the CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
View our special coverage on the CCP virus here.
Read More

Editorial: Giving the Right Name to the Virus Causing a Worldwide Pandemic

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy

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House Democrats Propose Canceling $30,000 in Student Debt per Borrower Amid COVID-19 Crisis

As negotiations over a massive economic stimulus package continues in the Senate, members of “The Squad” have proposed a separate plan to cancel student loan debt.
The legislation, dubbed Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, was co-sponsored by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). It would immediately eliminate at least $30,000 in outstanding student loan debt for each borrower, make all canceled debt tax-free, and require the U.S. Department of Education to make monthly payments on behalf of all borrowers of federal student loans for the remainder of the national emergency.
The bill would also prevent the federal government from seizing the borrowers’ paychecks, withholding their income tax returns, or cancelling their benefits during the national emergency.
“During this unprecedented crisis, no one should have to choose between paying their student loan payment, putting food on the table or keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy,” Pressley said in a statement, adding that her bill is meant to provide relief for workers and families “crushed by the financial and emotional burden of massive student debt.”
The proposal is more expensive than the plan unveiled last week by Senate Democrats. Under the plan introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and ranking members of the Senate Education Committee, including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), borrowers would have at least $10,000 of their loans paid off by the Education Department.
By contrast, the Senate Republicans proposed giving U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos the authority to pause student loan payments, principal and interest, for up to three months. Their plan, which is a part of the $1 trillion stimulus package, would also allow DeVos to grant another three months of deferment if necessary, depending on whether the national emergency declaration remains in effect.
The Trump administration currently allows all borrowers with federal student loans to temporarily stop their regular payments for 60 days, starting March 13, when President Donald Trump declared a national emergency. Their interest rates will also be adjusted to zero during that 60-day period.
As for those who decide to keep making their monthly payments in full, the education department will apply those full payments to their principal balance only, once all student loan interest prior to March 13 have been paid.
“Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe/healthy, not on their student loan balance growing,” wrote DeVos on Twitter. “I commend President @realDonaldTrump for his quick action on this issue, and I hope it provides meaningful help and peace of mind to those who need it most.”

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Top US Health Official Pushes Back on Claims He Diverges From Trump

One of the top health officials in the nation pushed back on a notion promoted by some media outlets that he has fundamental differences from President Donald Trump in how to deal with the new CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus, which causes a disease called COVID-19, because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Asked about reporters repeatedly asking him about possible differences of opinion, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he wished it would stop.
“The idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful. I wish that would stop and we’d look ahead at the challenge we have and pull together to get over this thing,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said during a radio interview on Tuesday.
WMAL-DC host Vince Coglianese said that more and more questions from the media appear designed to create a rift between Fauci and Trump, or emphasize differences in opinion.
“That is really unfortunate. I would wish that that would stop,” Fauci responded.
“Because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences. They’re really, fundamentally, at the core, when you look at things, there are not differences. The president has listened to what I have said and to what the other people on the task force have said. When I’ve made recommendations, he’s taken them. He’s never countered or overridden me.”

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, answers a question during a press conference about the coronavirus as Vice President Mike Pence (L), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma (2nd L), and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar (R) look on, at the White House in Washington on March 2, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

(L-R) Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Response Coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx, Vice President Mike Pence, and President Donald Trump take part in a Fox News virtual town hall meeting with anchor Bill Hemmer, from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on March 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has regularly appeared with the president and other members of the task force at the White House to answer questions from reporters.
In one instance last week, a reporter claimed that there are “millions” of Americans “who are scared right now” and asked Trump to say something to them. The president declined, calling it a sensational question.
Another reporter then asked Fauci to weigh in on the question, which Fauci ignored, and about perceived differences between what Trump and the infectious diseases expert were saying about a possible COVID-19 treatment.
“There really isn’t that much of a difference in many respects with what we’re saying. The President feels optimistic about something—his feeling about it. What I’m saying is that it might—it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t. It might be effective,” Fauci told reporters.
“But as a scientist, as we’re getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as—while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you’re also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19. So there really isn’t [a] difference. It’s just a question of how one feels about it.”
The president appeared later Tuesday at a virtual town hall on Fox News. Anchor Bill Hemmer asked him about Fauci, who wasn’t present at the event.
Trump said Fauci “has other things to do,” before saying: “We get along very well. I think it’s been very good.”
The task force includes a number of officials. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx have appeared daily at press briefings while others, such as Fauci, rotate in and out.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Elon Musk Sends 1,255 Ventilators to California to Help Fight Pandemic

Responding to equipment shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he bought 1,255 FDA-approved medical ventilators from China and had the devices flown into Los Angeles.
Musk said in a tweet on March 23 that he purchased the devices on Friday, adding that “if you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!”

Yup, China had an oversupply, so we bought 1255 FDA-approved ResMed, Philips & Medtronic ventilators on Friday night & airshipped them to LA. If you want a free ventilator installed, please let us know!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2020

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Monday that Musk had delivered the ventilators, calling the move “a heroic effort.”
Earlier, Musk wrote that Tesla would produce “ventilators if there is a shortage.” He said in a separate tweet last week that plans for production were already underway at Tesla factories, “We’re working on ventilators, even though I think there will not be a shortage by the time we can make enough to matter.”

Employees of Hamilton Medical AG test ventilators at a plant in Domat/Ems, Switzerland, on March 18, 2020. (Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo/Reuters)
‘Millions of Different Type Items Coming’
Ventilators, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, are mechanical breathing devices that can direct air and oxygen into the lungs. They are crucial for the care of people with lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered by patients with severe COVID-19.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread across China and fan a global pandemic.
The rapid outbreak, which has killed thousands of people globally, has strained healthcare systems around the world and led to a shortage of ventilators needed to treat patients suffering from the flu-like illness, which can lead to breathing difficulties and pneumonia in severe cases.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that his administration had just secured 400 ventilators for New York and that millions of different types of items would be shipped to aid states in their the emergency response to the pandemic.
“The World market for face masks and ventilators is Crazy,” Trump wrote. “We are helping the states to get equipment, but it is not easy. Just got 400 Ventilators for @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio. Work beginning on 4 hospitals in New York! Millions of different type items coming!”
Earlier, Trump said that General Motors (GM), Tesla, and Ford have been approved to produce ventilators to combat the virus surge in the United States.
GM has partnered with medical equipment maker Ventec and is building ventilators at its plant in Indiana.
“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to explore ways to help in this time of crisis,” Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Ford jumped into the emergency push to produce ventilators and respirators.
“We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state, and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs,” Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett said, adding that the company’s aim was to increase the supply of necessary medical equipment.
Ford and GE Healthcare will expand the production of GE’s ventilator design, while Ford will also separately work with 3M to increase manufacturing capacity of its air-purifying respirators.
The company said it was exploring how it could produce these new respirators in one of its Michigan manufacturing plants and help 3M boost production tenfold. It would use fans from its Ford F-150 cooled seats to make parts of the respirators, the company said.
‘Significant Action’
Earlier, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it had taken “significant action” to increase the availability of respiratory devices, including ventilators, in the fight against COVID-19.
“The FDA’s new actions will mean America can make more ventilators during this crisis,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar takes questions during a briefing with members of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force in Washington on Jan. 31, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
The FDA’s new actions to support response efforts to the pandemic, as detailed in a guidance document (pdf), include eliminating barriers to the production of ventilators and other respiratory devices, such as supply shortages or manufacturing limitations.
For example, the guidance says the FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion for certain modifications to FDA-cleared devices.
“Hospitals and other health care providers can repurpose machines they have now to serve as ventilators,” Azar said. “If you want to help expand production of ventilators to save American lives in this pandemic, we are going to work with you to sweep every possible barrier out of your way.”
Another change is that hospitals and health care professionals may use ventilators intended for other environments, the FDA said.
The agency stated this policy is intended to remain in effect only for the duration of the public health emergency related to COVID-19.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, as of March 24 at 9:55 a.m. ET, there were 46,485 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and 591 deaths.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM

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GOPers Blast Pelosi, House Dems’ ‘Liberal Agenda’ Demands in $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Bill

WASHINGTON—Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Administration Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) are using the national emergency caused by the CCP Virus to shift control of elections from states to the federal government, according to an Illinois Republican representative.
“It’s despicable that, while Americans are struggling, Democrats have chosen to not only block much needed assistance for the American people in the Senate, but then introduced legislation that is nothing but a dangerous ploy to federalize elections,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), the ranking minority member of the House Administration Committee in a statement issued late Monday.
“Democrats are trying to sneak in a nationalized ballot harvesting regime, meaning that political operatives in every state would now be able to come to a voter’s house to pick up their ballot and deliver it to the polling location,” Davis said of one of five major election reforms included in Pelosi’s “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act of 2020” (TRWFA).
On Sunday, Pelosi blew up the preceding week of bipartisan Senate negotiations that were nearing completion of the $2 trillion coronavirus economic relief package in the Senate and vowed to offer a new House Democratic alternative.
The five election reforms Davis criticized were among a long list of highly partisan TRFWA provisions with no connection to addressing the CCP Virus crisis gripping the nation.
Besides making ballot harvesting a national requirement, the House Democrats election reforms include requiring polling places to be within walking distance of public transportation, barring election officials from requiring identification from voters seeking absentee ballots, allowing high school students to be poll watchers, and allowing ballots to be cast from any location.
All of the reforms would be required to be implemented in time for the 2020 presidential election in November, which Davis said is not a feasible schedule.
“States are already working around the clock to keep their elections functioning during this national emergency. The last thing they need is for the federal government to impose unnecessary and time-consuming mandates,” Davis said in the statement.
Republicans Complain
Davis’ comments on the House Democrats proposed election reforms came amid a cacophony of congressional Republicans condemning Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for politicizing the CCP Virus relief effort.
On Sunday and again on Monday, all Republicans present in the Senate—five are self-quarantining and unable to vote—supported a motion to limit debate on the massive bipartisan relief package to 30 hours and then vote on final passage.
But the motion failed because it required 60 votes for passage and all 45 Democrats and Independent senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine opposed it the first time. On the second vote, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) voted with 48 Republicans.
“Instead of taking that legislation—urgent, necessary legislation—and passing it quickly, Democrats have now decided to allow Speaker Pelosi to block it through proxies here in the Senate so that she can rewrite the bill with a ton of crap that has absolutely nothing to do with the public health emergency that we face at this moment,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said during a fiery floor speech following Monday’s vote.
Pointing to a stack of papers on his desk, Sasse said “I spent a good part of the afternoon reading these 1,119 pages. You might wonder what this is. This is Nancy Pelosi’s last-minute additional Christmas wish list of progressive items that she wants added to the coronavirus relief bill.”
Sasse then cited eight examples and their page numbers in the bill draft, including:
Cancelling public and private student loans up to $10,000 (pages 421-422);
Mandating diversity reports on corporate boards (pages 570-572);
Requiring same-day voter registration in all 50 states (page 681);
Bailing out the U.S. Postal Service (pages 725-726);
Establishing a $15 an hour minimum wage (page 768);
Imposing Green New Deal standards on airlines (pages 803-804);
Setting funding standards for community newspapers (page 911);
Creating the Pension Rehabilitation Administration, a new and permanent bureaucracy (page 931).
“We’ve got families that are suffering,” said Sasse. “We’ve got small businesses that are closing literally by the hour. We have doctors fighting to prevent their hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“And what does Speaker Pelosi try to do? She’s trying to take hostages about her dream legislation, all sorts of dream legislative provisions that have nothing to do with this moment and say the American public can’t get access to the public health piece of legislation or the economic relief pieces of legislation unless she gets hostages that are entirely unrelated to this moment,” he said.
Similarly, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Monday that congressional Democrats “are holding the bill hostage for a liberal agenda that won’t sell at the ballot box. Impeachment blew up in their face, they’re playing with political fire and Democratic senators are not going to play this game much longer.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in the same Fox News interview that Pelosi’s demands also include publicizing race-based pay data for corporations, imposing a diversity quota system for corporate boards of directors, liberalized rules for official time for union officials in collective bargaining negotiations, additional federal funds for sanctuary cities, a $15 federal minimum wage, student loan forgiveness, and a new federally funded study of global warming mitigation.
“I flew back on a red-eye for that meeting Sunday. We were at an agreement, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate had worked together in committee to come up and actually move forward,” McCarthy said.
“Nancy Pelosi walked into the room and you see Chuck Schumer actually kind of fall behind the table,” McCarthy continued, listing Pelosi’s demands.
“This does nothing for those who got laid off today, it does nothing for those who got a positive [CCP virus test] report today … In my entire life as an elected official, I have never seen such selfishness in these individuals. They would rather have a liberal wish list than the well-being of this country.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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White House Launches Supercomputing Consortium to Fight Virus

The White House on March 23 announced the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, allowing researchers access to U.S.-based supercomputers that can significantly advance the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the CCP virus.
According to a statement, the new consortium is headed by the White House, the U.S. Department of Energy, and IBM and also includes others like Microsoft and Google, as well as federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation, who have volunteered free computing time and resources for CCP virus research.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
“America is coming together to fight COVID-19, and that means unleashing the full capacity of our world-class supercomputers to rapidly advance scientific research for treatments and a vaccine. We thank the private sector and academic leaders who are joining the federal government as part of the Trump administration’s whole-of-America response,” said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.
Researchers can submit COVID-19-related research proposals to the consortium via an online portal which will then be reviewed and matched with computing resources from one of the partner institutions. An expert panel of top scientists and computing researchers will work with proposers to quickly assess the projects that will have the most immediate impact and the powerful computing assets will be allocated to them.
The sophisticated computing systems available through the consortium can process massive numbers of calculations related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling, accurately simulating how a virus will behave, and what vulnerabilities it may possess.
This can help scientists better understand complex questions about COVID-19 in hours or days as opposed to the weeks or months it would take on less powerful computers or by hand.
In total, 16 supercomputers will be used, offering 775,000 CPU (central processing unit) cores, which read and execute program instructions, and 34,000 GPUs (graphics processing unit), which work with the CPU to accelerate calculations involving massive amounts of data.
The supercomputers will also provide more than 330 petaflops of computing power to researchers. A petaflop is a unit of measurement used for measuring the performance of a processor’s floating point unit, a specialized coprocessor that manipulates numbers more quickly than the basic microprocessor circuitry.
According to IBM, the medical researchers at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have already used the world’s most powerful Summit supercomputer to screen 8,000 compounds to find those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the CCP virus. They were able to identify 77 promising compounds which could potentially impair the virus’s ability to infect human cells.
Currently, there are 381,653 global confirmed cases of CCP virus, while 16,558 deaths have been attributed to the disease. According to Epoch Times investigations, China’s confirmed cases and deaths are more than 10 times higher than reported while Iran’s figures are unverifiable.

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Mnuchin Hopeful $2 Trillion CCP Virus Aid Package Can Be Closed Today

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Treasury secretary and the Senate Democratic leader voiced confidence late on Monday for a deal to be reached soon on a far-reaching CCP virus economic stimulus package that had been stalled in the U.S. Senate as lawmakers haggled over it.
Negotiators made great progress on the bipartisan, $2 trillion stimulus measure on Monday, but without striking a final pact as they had hoped, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.
“There are still a couple of open issues,” Mnuchin said just before midnight. “I think we are very hopeful that this can be closed out tomorrow.”
Schumer said he thought the Senate could vote as soon as Tuesday, adding, “It’s a huge bill of $2 trillion with many different moving parts.”
They gave no specifics about remaining obstacles, but Democrats have said the stimulus plan originally proposed by Republicans contained too little money for states and hospitals and not enough restrictions on a fund to help big businesses.
Two attempts to advance a Republican measure in the Senate failed in the past two days, despite the party’s majority.
In the second attempt, on Monday, the 49-46 vote fell short of the 60 needed to advance, as only one Democrat voted with Republicans.
Congress has already passed two packages of legislation to blunt the economic toll of the pandemic, which has killed more than 550 people in the United States and sickened more than 43,800, thrown millions out of work, and led state governors to order nearly a third of the nation’s population to stay at home.
Tempers have frayed as Republicans accused Democrats of obstruction during a national emergency, even as talks continued for days.
Trump Responds
Republican President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter just as Mnuchin and Schumer spoke, accusing House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of taking an “extended vacation” and then making demands he would never agree to.
“The Democrats want the virus to win?” Trump said in the Twitter post. “They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies.”
Democrats insist any agreement must include more oversight provisions for a $500 billion fund for large businesses, to avoid giving corporate leaders a blank check. Asked about that, Trump responded to reporters, “I’ll be the oversight.”
Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s point person on CCP virus legislation, said he would return to the Capitol at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday to resume discussions.
He told reporters Trump would like to have a deal and was hopeful it could be concluded on Tuesday.
The administration launched a major push last week for action to blunt the economic impact from the pandemic, and an accompanying steep decline in the stock market.
The Senate measure includes financial aid for ordinary Americans, small businesses, and critically affected industries, such as airlines.
Republicans said Democrats were seeking to add unrelated provisions, such as expanded tax credits for wind and solar power and increased leverage for labor unions.
Democrats said provisions sought by Republicans would exclude nonprofit groups from receiving small business aid, and extend a sexual abstinence education program due to expire in May.
Pelosi, who has been involved in the Senate talks, also released her own counter-proposal, which would add billions of dollars to help states conduct elections by mail.
Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber, short of the 60 votes needed to advance most legislation.
On Sunday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he tested positive for the CCP virus. But since he kept circulating on Capitol Hill after getting tested, three other Republicans decided to self-quarantine as a precaution.
By Richard Cowan and David Morgan

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Democrats’ CCP Virus Bill Proposes Cash Payments of $1,500 Per Person

House Democrats on March 23 unveiled a $2.5 trillion emergency bill in response to the package under negotiation by the Senate that aims to stem some of the economic toll of the CCP virus pandemic.
The 1,400-page proposal, released Monday evening, offers each taxpayer in a household $1,500—or $3,000 for joint returns—and $1,500 for each child, with a maximum payment of $7,500 for a family of five under the “Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act.”
The cash payment would have to be repaid by individuals with an income of more than $75,000, or more than $150,000 for couples filing tax returns jointly. Households may choose to repay the sum over the course of three years.
In contrast, the Senate proposal laid out Sunday provides a quick, one-time stipend of about $1,200 per individual, $2,400 for couples, and $3,000 for a family of four, with the money cut off at higher income levels.
The House Democrats’ proposal also offers to funnel more than $150 billion into the health care system—to health care providers and community health centers—as the spread of the CCP virus continues to spread rapidly across the nation.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak in Wuhan allowed the virus to spread across China and fan a global pandemic.
Hospitals, under the Democrats’ bill, would receive an additional $80 billion in low-interest loans, $5 billion more than what has been offered by Senate Republicans’ nearly $2 trillion package.
In their proposals, both Senate Republicans and House Democrats have offered allowing businesses to carry back net operating losses from this year, 2019, and 2018. However, the House bill places has restrictions in place on what businesses can qualify.
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the allocation of expenses in the House Democrats’ proposal toward areas that appear unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak, including $35 million for the “operations and maintenance” of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., reported Fox News.
It also includes the allocation of $300 million for the National Endowment of the Humanities, a further $300 million for the National Endowment of the Arts, $278 million for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $100 million for NASA.
Republicans and Democrats were still struggling on Monday to reach an agreement on a far-reaching CCP virus stimulus package, after failing to reach a deal over the weekend. Democrats said it contained too little money for states and hospitals and not enough restrictions on a fund to help big businesses.
The 49-46 vote left the $2 trillion measure short of the 60 votes needed to advance, as the chamber remained deadlocked for a second day. Only one Democrat, Doug Jones of Alabama, voted with Republicans to advance the bill. He told CNN that he voted because he thinks “there’s been great progress.”
“I believe that we needed to really send a message to the American people and to both side of the aisle that the clock is ticking, that we need to get this done and we need to get it done now, and the best way to do that is to proceed,” he said.
According to official government data collated by Johns Hopkins University, by the end of Monday, there were 46,450 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States and 590 deaths.
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Trump: Spread of CCP Virus Not the Fault of Asian Americans

President Donald Trump said on March 23 that Asian Americans were not responsible for spreading the CCP virus and that they need protection, after he was accused of racism in labeling the growing pandemic the “Chinese virus” last week. “It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States, and […]

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Trump Signs Order to Prevent Hoarding, Price Gouging of ‘Critical’ Supplies

President Donald Trump on March 23 signed an executive order to prevent the price gouging and hoarding of “critical supplies” needed to combat the CCP virus outbreak.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak in Wuhan allowed the virus to spread across China and fan a global pandemic.
“We have some people hoarding. We want to prevent price gouging and critical resources are going to be protected in every form,” Trump said at a press conference on Monday.
The White House said that the president is authorized under the Defense Production Act to prohibit the hoarding of needed resources.

President @realDonaldTrump just signed an EO to prevent hoarding & price gouging of supplies needed in our war against the #Coronavirus. This sends a strong message – we will not let those hoarding vital supplies & price gougers to harm the health of America in this hour of need. pic.twitter.com/eksxQOVKNM
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) March 23, 2020

“This sends a strong message,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter. “We will not let those hoarding vital supplies & price gougers to harm the health of America in this hour of need.”
Attorney General William Barr emphasized that individuals who stockpile essential supplies will not be the target of the presidential action, but those who hoard items to sell with hiked up prices are, and may be subject to investigation.
“If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about, but if you are sitting on a warehouse with surgical masks, you’ll be hearing a knock on your door,” he said. 
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now been granted the authority to determine which items are prohibited for sale in “unnecessary quantities” above the fair market value in light of the new hoarding rules.
The HHS will work with the Department of Justice to enforce the measure where hoarding may be impeding the supply of health and medical resources that are needed to combat the spread of the virus, the White House said. The items have not yet been designated.
The measure aims to ensure that hospitals, first-responders, and doctors have sufficient supplies of critical medical equipment, including personal protective equipment and sanitizing and disinfecting products.
“By limiting access to these critical resources, those who engage in hoarding and price gouging could put both our medical workers and the health of the American people at risk,” the White House said. “All Americans must come together to help one another during this time and help combat the outbreak.”
The New York attorney general office told The Epoch Times last week that it had received dozens of complaints about price gouging for masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant sprays.
The executive order comes after Trump on March 15 urged Americans not to stockpile groceries and other supplies as he assured that grocers would remain open and that the supply chain remained healthy.
“You don’t have to buy so much,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “Take it easy. Just relax.” 
According to official government data collated by Johns Hopkins University, as of Monday night, there were 46,371 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States and 585 deaths.

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Senator Says He Wouldn’t Have Been Tested for New Virus Based on Current Guidelines

The first U.S. senator to be diagnosed with the CCP virus said he wouldn’t have been tested under current guidelines but that he got a test anyways because of a lung that was damaged by his neighbor years ago.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tested positive for the CCP virus, his office announced on Sunday. The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
In a statement Monday, Paul said he took the initiative to get tested even though he didn’t think he had the new illness.
“Given that my wife and I had traveled extensively during the weeks prior to COVID-19 social distancing practices, and that I am at a higher risk for serious complications from the virus due to having part of my lung removed seven months ago, I took a COVID-19 test when I arrived in D.C. last Monday,” he said.
Paul noted that nearly every member of the 100-person body travels by plane multiple times per week and attends large gatherings, leading him to think his risk factor for exposure to the virus was similar to that of his colleagues. Referencing a fundraiser he attended in Kentucky on March 7, he said he had no contact or proximity to either of the two people who later tested positive for COVID-19 and that local police said public health officials were contacting those who were believed to be at higher risk from possible exposure.
Paul said he “didn’t fit the criteria for testing or quarantine” and “had no symptoms and no specific encounter with a COVID-19 positive person.” His travel, together with his compromised lung, led him to seek testing.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a Senate hearing regarding the coronavirus in Washington on March 3, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
He is still not showing symptoms of the virus, which are similar to the flu.
“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol. The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested,” he said.
Paul called for more testing immediately, even among people who aren’t showing symptoms, asserting that thousands of people want testing but aren’t able to get tested.
Paul’s positive test prompted Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to enter self-isolation. Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) were already under quarantine because of possible exposure to other people who later tested positive.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was in quarantine but tested negative for the new illness.
The senators entering quarantine has sparked a serious look at allowing members of Congress to vote remotely as the Senate and House of Representatives try to put together the largest relief package yet.
Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

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Partisanship Explodes as Senate Stumbles Toward $2 Trillion CCP Virus Economic Relief Deal

WASHINGTON—Senate Republican and Democratic leaders ripped each other on the Senate floor Monday as a $2 trillion economic stimulus package stumbled amid intense partisan bickering.
“Are you kidding me,” demanded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an impassioned morning floor speech. “This is the moment to debate new regulations that have nothing to do whatsoever with this crisis?”
McConnell continued, saying, “Here are some of the items on the Democratic wish list over which they choose to block this legislation last night. Tax credits for solar energy and wind energy. Provisions to force employers to give special new treatment to Big Labor. And listen to this: New emissions standards for the airlines,” McConnell said.
“That’s what they’re up to over there and the American people need to know it. Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small business unless they get to dust off their Green New Deal,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) immediately followed McConnell, vigorously rejecting the Republican leader’s criticisms.
“The bill still includes something that most Americans don’t want to see. Large corporate bailouts with almost no strings attached,” Schumer said, claiming the relief package allows corporations to receive billions of dollars of loans and other assistance with no public accountability.
Still, Schumer declared that “we’re very close to reaching a deal, very close, and our goal is to reach a deal today, and we’re hopeful, even confident that we will meet that goal.”
The conflict followed Sunday’s 48-47 straight party line vote that prevented the Senate from limiting debate on the package and holding a final vote on it possibly as early as Tuesday.
The debate-limiting motion required 60 votes to pass. With all of the Senate’s Democrats voting against it, the motion would have failed even if five Republican senators were not absent due to self-quarantining as a result of the CCP Virus.
The failure of the motion sparked an outpouring of negative media headlines, led by The New York Times, which declared “Emergency Economic Rescue Plan in Limbo as Democrats Block Action.”
In the story, the Times said, “In voting to block action, Democrats risked a political backlash if they are seen as obstructing progress on a measure that is widely regarded as crucial to aid desperate Americans and prop up a flagging economy.”
McConnell pointed to a statement by House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) to explain why Senate negotiations that had been bipartisan and seeming to move towards a quick resolution took a sudden partisan turn over the weekend.
“Remember what one of Speaker Pelosi’s top lieutenants said just a few days ago and this is a direct quote: ‘This is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’ That was the Democratic whip in the House just laying it out there.”
There was no agreement among Democratic and Republican strategists interviewed Monday by The Epoch Times on the reasons for the partisan blowup.
Jim Manley, former communications director for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said “the idea that Senate Republicans are criticizing Speaker Pelosi is as pathetic as it is wrong. The fact of the matter is that at the beginning of this latest series of negotiations, McConnell made it very clear that he didn’t want Pelosi involved.”
Manley added that “the idea that he just thought that House and Senate Democrats would just swallow this $500 billion slush fund without any oversight showed me that he really wasn’t interested in cutting a bipartisan deal.”
Robert Weissman, president of the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen, dismissed the idea that Democrats could suffer from a voter backlash due to blocking the bill Sunday.
“First of all, there is almost certainly going to be a deal. By November, no one will worry about whether it happened on Sunday night or Monday or Wednesday, or even remember” the vote at all.
“Second, the Democrats are demanding protections for workers and accountability for bailouts. That’s both right on the merits and almost certain to be well received by voters,” Weissman said.
But Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz disagreed, arguing that “Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Schumer should be ashamed of themselves for failing to agree to the legislation that Senate Democrats negotiated over the past week.”
Now, Schatz said, “Republicans negotiated in good faith on the coronavirus legislation with their Democrats colleagues. They should keep up the pressure for Democrats to agree to move the bill to the floor expeditiously and get it enacted into law.”
Brian Darling, former counsel to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), warned that, “This is one of those rare moments in politics where the voters really want to believe that Congress is working to solve a problem. Blocking a bill because Democrats want more in a bill that has already ballooned to $2 trillion is politically dangerous and risky.”
And Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), claimed “Democrats are not just playing politics, they are holding needed legislation hostage for more earmarks directing billions to their favorite political friends, who will be expected to return the favor in campaign contributions.”
Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams suggested that, “It may be time to do this legislation piecemeal by immediately providing relief to small business and individuals and extending unemployment benefits. If they do this, they still need to address the financial impact on ‘distressed industries.’ Doing nothing is unacceptable.”
Williams said, “It appears that Senate Majority Leader McConnell negotiated in good faith with Sen. Schumer so it’s easy to see why the blame is being placed on Democrats.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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Trump Endorsement, Paul Self-Quarantine Revive Serious Look at Remote Voting in Congress

WASHINGTON—Prospects for Congress establishing some form of emergency remote- voting process were boosted Sunday when President Donald Trump endorsed the idea and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) began self-quarantining after testing positive for the CCP Virus.
“I would certainly be in favor of it, where they could remote-vote from some outside location,” Trump told the nation during his Sunday CCP Virus daily news conference at the White House.
Trump said he was thinking about the remote-voting possibility after Paul and another congressional Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, confirmed they had tested positive for the disease and had opted to self-quarantine. Rep. Ben McAdam (D-Utah) has also tested positive.
Four other Republican senators are also self-quarantining, including Mike Lee and Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Rick Scott of Florida. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas previously self-quarantined for two weeks.
The CCP Virus has hit the House of Representatives hard as well, with eight Republicans and 17 Democrats self-quarantining, at latest count.
The absent Republican senators have made Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s job much harder as he oversees the tense negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional Democrats on the $2 trillion economic stimulus package.
The Kentucky Republican has only 48 of the Senate’s 53 Republican- member majority, giving McConnell a razor-thin one-vote edge against Democrats.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced a remote-voting resolution March 19.
Under the resolution, the Senate’s majority and minority leaders would have to agree to allow remote-voting for 30 days. The full Senate would have to approve continuing the process.
“We live in an age where national emergencies, public health crises, and terrorism can threaten the ordinary course of Senate business,” Durbin said in a statement announcing the proposal. “We need to bring voting in the Senate into the 21st century so that our important work can continue even under extraordinary circumstances.”
As news spread Sunday about Paul, Portman told the Senate that the remote voting resolution “is a bipartisan effort to ensure that we can be able to do our duty, as the legislative branch, Article I, we have responsibilities here. This is our duty station. And yet, if we cannot be here, we still need to be able to do it remotely. With the technology we now have, we have the ability to do that, as my colleague from Illinois has said, in a safe and secure way.”
Portman added that “my hope is that we can have this as a possibility should we not be able to gather. I think what has happened in the last several hours as we’ve learned about our colleagues who are self-quarantining, one who tested positive, as I understand it, it’s very important that we have that ability.”
Also on Sunday, two veteran advocates of remote voting took to the pages of the Washington Post to encourage adoption of the process and to remind readers that a similar public discussion was held in the months after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
“There are no provisions, constitutionally, legally or within congressional rules, to enable Congress to meet remotely,” wrote Norman Orenstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution. Both are senior fellows at their respective foundations.
“This is true even though these challenges are not new; we faced them in the aftermath of 9/11 and with the subsequent anthrax threat that could have left a majority of members of the House and Senate incapacitated. Yet Congress failed to seriously address these vulnerabilities,” they said.
Remote voting could be especially relevant with the CCP Virus because it is spread through close personal contacts and mainly threatens older people, especially those with weakened immune systems or underlying conditions like heart disease.
“Given that these are people who are disproportionately older, who reflexively shake hands and who work in close proximity to one another, a coming crisis of government is not implausible. But don’t say they weren’t warned,” they continued.
Nothing changed after 9/11 despite their efforts.
“Every year for the past 19, we have tried to raise these issues again, and neither party’s leadership has been interested,” they wrote.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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DOJ Drops Case Against Russian Companies Charged in Mueller Investigation

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to drop charges against two Russian companies charged as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering were among three companies, including the Internet Research Agency (IRA), and 13 Russian individuals charged in 2018 in an indictment secured by Mueller as part of an investigation into election interference from Moscow.
Prosecutors said they operated a sophisticated scheme which included the use of social media postings and campaigns aimed at spreading disinformation, dividing American public opinion and sowing discord in the electorate.
Concord is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman often referred to as “Putin’s chef” for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has been hit with U.S. sanctions over Russian interference in the 2016 election and is charged alongside his company in the indictment brought by Mueller.
However, in a nine-page filing on Monday, prosecutors said that the Concord companies were intent on reaping “the benefits of the Court’s jurisdiction while positioning itself to evade any real obligations or responsibility.”
Prosecutors said they concluded that “further proceedings as to Concord, a Russian company with no presence in the United States and no exposure to meaningful punishment in the event of a conviction, promotes neither the interests of justice nor the nation’s security.”
The New York Times reports that the DOJ’s concerns over documents it might have to provide to Concord which may be published online also contributed to the case being dropped, with an official telling the outlet that the motion was filed to “preserve national security interests and prevent Russia from weaponizing sensitive American law enforcement information.”
The Concord companies filed a series of motions over the last two years, including to dismiss charges and to exclude certain evidence from the case. Prigozhin has also previously filed a sworn statement with the court seeking to distance himself from the alleged wrongdoing of his company.
Following the filing of the motion on Monday, Prigozhin thanked his lawyer Eric Dubelier for leading the case “to a victorious end,” and argued the prosecution’s decision means claims that Russian interfered in the 2016 race are “lies and fiction,” according to The Washington Times.
President Donald Trump also weighed in on the trial being dropped on Monday night, retweeting two tweets from other users, one of which read, “How embarrassing for Team Mueller.”
Concord Management and Consulting LLC, was due to face a criminal trial in the case in April, however this may have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Amy Klobuchar Says Her Husband Tested Positive for COVID-19

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who ended her 2020 presidential campaign just weeks ago, revealed that her husband tested positive for COVID-19.
Klobuchar wrote in a statement that her family received test results back for her husband, John, saying that he now being treated at a hospital for the CCP virus. Public records show that her husband is 52 years old.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
“We just got the test results at 7 a.m. this morning,” Klobuchar wrote. “While I cannot see him and he is of course cut off from all visitors, our daughter Abigail and I are constantly calling and texting and emailing. We love him very much and pray for his recovery. He is exhausted and sick but a very strong and resilient person.”
Elaborating further, Klobuchar, 59, said John began to feel ill when he was in Washington and she was in Minnesota, believing that it was simply a cold.
“He immediately quarantined himself just in case and stopped going to his job teaching in Baltimore. He kept having a temperature and a bad, bad cough and when he started coughing up blood he got a test and a chest X-ray and they checked him into a hospital in Virginia,” the senator wrote.
Doctors reported very low oxygen levels that haven’t improved, she said, adding that he now has pneumonia. Her husband is now receiving oxygen but isn’t on a ventilator.

My husband has coronavirus. I love him & not being able to be by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease. So many are going through this & much worse. I pray for him & you & meanwhile I will do all I can to get help to the American people.https://t.co/fqQU6tA29r pic.twitter.com/SjyfdQxe1R
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 23, 2020

“I wanted to let my colleagues and constituents know that since John and I have been in different places for the last two weeks and I am outside the 14-day period for getting sick, my doctor has advised me to not get a test,” Klobuchar said. “As everyone is aware, there are test shortages for people who need them everywhere and I don’t qualify to get one under any standard.”
It comes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) revealed that he tested positive for the virus on Sunday. However, he said that he is not showing any symptoms and is self-quarantined.
Several other senators, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), have quarantined themselves after interacting with Paul.
“I know so many Americans are going through this and so much worse right now. So I hope and pray for you, just as I hope you will do for my husband. Meanwhile I am working in the Senate to get help to the American people,” Klobuchar wrote.

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Senator Mitt Romney to Self-Quarantine After Rand Paul Tests Positive

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced he would be self-quarantining after Senator Rand Paul tested positive for the CCP virus.
NTD refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Sen. Romney is the second senator to self-quarantine after Sen. Paul, who announced Sunday that he tested positive for coronavirus, according to The Hill.
Sen. Paul is currently in self-quarantine and “is feeling fine,” his office statement wrote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in the Senate subway area of the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Romney told reporters that he had lunch with Paul and few others on Friday where he sat next to Paul, according to a statement released by his office.
The statement wrote, “Since Senator Romney sat next to Senator Paul for extended periods in recent days and consistent with [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance, the attending physician has ordered him to immediately self-quarantine and not to vote on the Senate floor. He has no symptoms but will be tested.”
The self-quarantining announcement came less than an hour after the Senate was set to hold a procedural vote on a 1.8 trillion economic stimulus package to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
His office added that Sen. Romney “urges members to pass a relief package as quickly as possible that provides assistance for families, workers, and small businesses.”
Earlier in the day, Romney had told reporters, “senators are going to seek medical advice as to what actions we should take to make sure that we don’t in any way spread this virus ourselves.”
From NTD News

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Trump Administration Will Reassess Response To CCP virus After 15-Day Plan

President Donald Trump on Sunday wrote on Twitter that his administration will reassess its response to the CCP virus outbreak at the end of the 15-day plan to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the disease.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
“We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself. At the end of the 15 day period, we will make a decision as to which way we want to go,” the president wrote in all caps.
The president on March 16 issued guidance urging a 15-day period of collective action from Americans aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
“We’re asking everyone to work at home, if possible, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people,” Trump had said when describing some of the guidelines, adding that “if we do this right, our country—and the world, frankly—but our country can be rolling again pretty quickly.”
Since the guidelines were issued, his administration has been working to stem the economic blow of the epidemic, which has caused stocks to plunge and non-essential businesses to be forced to shut down.
Nearly one in three Americans was under orders on Sunday to stay home to slow the spread of the virus as Ohio, Louisiana, and Delaware became the latest states to enact broad restrictions, along with the city of Philadelphia. New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey, home to 101 million Americans combined, have already enforced the same order.
Also on Sunday, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked legislation that would pump well over $1 trillion into the American economy on programs to help companies losing business during the coronavirus outbreak and unemployed workers.
The measure faltered after it failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to clear a procedural hurdle after days of negotiations, with 47 senators voting in favor and 47 opposed.
Democrats had raised objections to the Senate bill throughout the day, with the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), saying his party opposed moving forward with the bill “because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and health care workers who need our help,” Huffpost reported.
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in a statement on Sunday called the block “pathetic.”
‪”Tonight’s vote was not even on passing a bipartisan plan, it was merely to begin debating it. The American people are hurting, the clock is ticking, but Senate Democrats would rather cave to Speaker Pelosi’s eleventh-hour demands,” he said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “My colleagues on the other side of the aisle should worry more about getting relief to their constituents and less about the House Speaker’s partisan wish list. This cannot go another day.”

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COVID-19 Rescue Package Blocked in Senate

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Sunday blocked legislation that would pump well over $1 trillion into the American economy on programs to help companies losing business during the coronavirus outbreak and unemployed workers.
The measure faltered after it failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to clear a procedural hurdle after days of negotiations. The vote came in at 47-47.
The bill is Congress’ third effort to blunt the economic toll of a disease that has killed at least 400 people in the United States and sickened more than 33,000, leading governors to order nearly a third of the nation’s population to stay at home and putting much business activity on hold.
The measure envisages financial aid for regular Americans, small businesses and critically affected industries, including airlines.
Democrats had raised objections to the Senate bill throughout the day, with the Senate’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer, saying it had “many, many problems” and would benefit corporate interests at the expense of hospitals, healthcare workers, cities and states.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delayed a scheduled 3 p.m. vote to continue negotiations with Democrats over points of difference. However, by the 6 p.m. vote, the Senate was still divided.
“Unfortunately, the legislation has not improved enough in the past three hours,” Schumer said.
McConnell after the failed vote said he would force another count.
“The American people are watching this spectacle,” he said. “I’m told the futures market is down 5 percent. I’m also told that’s when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to play games here with the American economy and the American people is utterly absurd.
“The American people expect us to act tomorrow, and I want everybody to fully understand if we aren’t able to act tomorrow, it will be because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dither when the country expects us to come together and address this problem.”
Three GOP senators were absent for the vote after Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) confirmed Sunday morning that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be in self-quarantine. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) were also in self-quarantine during the vote as part of their own precautionary measures.
Read More

Sen. Rand Paul Tests Positive for COVID-19

The failure of the measure to move forward sends Democrats and Republicans back to the negotiating table. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said earlier on Sunday that Democrats in that chamber will begin crafting an alternative to the Senate bill.
By Rick Cowan and Alexandra Alper. Epoch Times staff contributed to this article.

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US, Mexico Agree on Importance of Trade Despite Border Restrictions

WASHINGTON, MEXICO CITY—U.S. President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, agreed on Saturday on the importance of preserving bilateral trade and critical services, despite U.S.-Mexico border restrictions to fight the coronavirus, a White House spokesman said.
“The two leaders discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the close United States-Mexico cooperation on efforts to combat the virus,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere after the two leaders spoke by telephone.
“President Trump and President Lopez Obrador agreed on the importance of preserving trade and critical services, regardless of travel restrictions,” Deere said, referring to an agreement to limit movement across the United States-Mexico border to essential travel only.
Lopez Obrador took to Twitter to thank Trump for not closing the shared border and proposed speeding up implementation of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in order to boost economic recovery in the countries.
Trump said on Friday the United States would swiftly return any migrants who attempt to enter the country illegally, from Mexico or Canada, while closing both U.S. borders to “non-essential” travel to limit the spread of CCP virus.
The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.
Trump also said the United States and Mexico would work to keep commerce moving as much as possible across the border to try to limit disruptions to business and commerce.
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report

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