The federal government has been rolling out its response to the coronavirus crisis, trying to slow the spread and stimulate the economy, which has taken a severe hit, and by agreeing to a massive stimulus package after midnight on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump is considering loosening social distancing guidelines amid the growing economic fallout, saying he envisions "packed churches" on Easter, but public health officials warn that approach could quickly overload hospital systems and cost more lives.
Here are Wednesday’s most significant developments in Washington:
- Wednesday is the tenth day of the president's 15-day guidelines designed to slow the spread
- Senate leaders and White House say they've reached a deal on $2 trillion stimulus package, vote expected sometime Wednesday
- Trump is scheduled to participate in a phone call with non-profit organizations on COVID-19 response at 2 p.m.
- A White House coronavirus task force briefing is scheduled for 5 p.m.
- Attorneys generals pen letter to Trump urging him to use Defense Production Act powers
Here are the latest developments in the government response:
Negotiators reach deal in principle on stimulus package
After five days of closed-door negotiations between Senate leaders and White House officials, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced they have reached a deal on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. While not setting an exact time for the vote later today, both indicated it will pass.
The final deal is being drafted this morning.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are done. We have a deal," White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland said in early hours on Capitol Hill. "Much of the work on the bill text has been completed and I’m hopeful over the next few hours [it will be finished] … We will circulate it early in the morning."
Asked if the president would sign the bill, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said "absolutely."
"Spoken to the president many times today. He's very pleased with this legislation and the impact that this is going to have."
The deal includes a one-time check of $1,200 to Americans who made up to $75,000 in 2018 and extends unemployment benefits.
Trump mocks Romney after the senator announces negative COVID-19 results
As the U.S. toll soared to over 800 Wednesday morning, President Trump fired off a series of tweets, one mocking Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, a political rival of the president's.
Responding to news that Romney announced he had tested negative for COVID-19, the president tweeted he's "so happy" that he "can barely speak."
"This is really great news! I am so happy I can barely speak," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "He may have been a terrible presidential candidate and an even worse U.S. Senator, but he is a RINO [Republican In Name Only], and I like him a lot!"
Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to convict Trump during his impeachment trial.
Sixteen attorneys general call on Trump to use Defense Production Act powers
A coalition of 16 attorneys general are calling on President Trump to use the powers of the Defense Production Act to prioritize the private production of masks, respirators and other essential items for health care workers across the country amid the coronavirus crisis.
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C. and Wisconsin sent a joint letter to Trump on Wednesday morning.
"We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies," the letter said. "The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible."
Trump signed an executive order last week invoking the Defense Production Act, a 1950 wartime law that requires private companies to prioritize product orders from the federal government, but it doesn't appear that he's used its powers.
What to know about coronavirus:
ABC News' Ben Gittleson, Jordyn Phelps and Trish Turner contributed to this report.