Trump signs into law largest bailout in US history

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President Trump has signed the largest ever US financial stimulus package worth $2tn, as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

The House of Representatives passed the cross-party bill two days after the Senate debated its provisions.

On Wednesday the number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to a record high of 3.3 million people.

The US has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 100,000 positive tests.

No Democratic lawmakers were invited to the historic signing ceremony, which was held at the White House, though the president thanked both parties “for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first”.

Mr Trump said the package was “twice as large” as any prior relief bill.

“This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses,” he said.

General Motors to make ventilators
Just before signing the act into law, Mr Trump invoked the Defence Production Act DPA, which gives the president the power to force private industries to create items required for national defence.

Mr Trump said the order will compel General Motors GM to manufacture much-needed medical ventilators for the federal government.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump tweeted that GM had promised 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,” he said, threatening to invoke the DPA.

During the bill signing, the president said that “tremendous [medical] supplies” would be coming soon, adding: “We’ve had great results on just about everything we’re talking about.”

Earlier on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected surge in cases.

He said 519 people had died in the state, the worst-hit in the US and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.

Need for ventilators
The medical machines that keep patients breathing are much in demand amid the respiratory illness’ outbreak, which in the most serious cases attacks the lungs.

Louisiana’s governor said on Friday that New Orleans could run out of ventilators by April 2.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine has estimated that 960,000 intensive care patients will require a ventilator at some point during the US coronavirus outbreak.

New York has requested 30,000 ventilators, but Mr Trump said during Friday’s briefing he felt that was a “high” estimate.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fired back, insisting the request was based on “facts and on data”.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu