With unprecedented speed and cooperation, Congress and the White House forged a deal to inject around US$150 billion into the US economy in a move to rejuvenate it and ease turmoil that the US' problems spawned in the world's markets.
Few developments were expected yesterday as lawmakers digested Thursday's announcement of an agreement between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Republican leader John Boehner and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson that is intended to stave off the first recession since 2001.
The Senate very often wins its battles with the House. But now, with the power of the administration of US President George W. Bush behind them, House leaders are optimistic that their simply drawn measure would prevent the Senate from making significant changes such as extending unemployment benefits.
The US economic problems stemmed from a collapse of housing prices, escalating oil prices and tight credit related to the housing disaster. The domestic and foreign turmoil that followed made the economy replace the war in Iraq as a chief worry of US voters as the presidential nomination campaign heats up.
As the possibility of economic recession became more plausible, lawmakers eagerly jumped at a chance to ward off the financial collapse threatened during an election year.
The package passed on Thursday features tax rebates of US$600 to US$1,200 to most tax filers within six months in the hope they will spend the money quickly and jolt the ailing economy to life. Businesses would get US$50 billion in incentives to invest in new plants and equipment.
"This package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment," Bush said in hailing the agreement on Thursday.
The bill will go straight to the House floor next week and on to the Senate, where some Democrats hope to add elements such as extending unemployment benefits.
Indeed, many Democrats, such as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, and Senator Edward Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate, were deeply unhappy that Pelosi agreed to jettison that proposal in late-stage talks, along with plans to increase food stamp payments.
"I do not understand, and cannot accept, the resistance of President Bush and Republican leaders to including an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are without work through no fault of their own," Rangel said.
Passengers on domestic flights would not be allowed to board if their temperature is more than 37.5°C or if they refuse to have their temperatures taken, Uni Air (立榮航空) and Mandarin Airlines (華信航空) said yesterday. The two airlines made the announcement after their parent companies — EVA Airways (長榮航空) and China Airlines (CAL, 中華航空) respectively — announced similar pre-boarding requirements on Saturday, along with a requirement that passengers wear masks during their flights, except when they have meals or drinks. Uni Air and Mandarin Airlines said domestic passengers would be required to wear masks from the time they start using self-help
CASE COUNT RISES: One of the new domestic cases is a nurse at a long-term care center, but so far tests on all the residents and other staff have been negative Flight transits through all Taiwanese airports would be banned for two weeks, starting tomorrow, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it announced 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the nation’s total to 169. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said all flight transits would be banned through April 7. In light of the rapidly increasing number of imported COVID-19 cases, there was a need to further reduce cross-border travel and the risk of disease transmission, the center said. The Civil Aeronautics Administration has informed airlines about the new measures, and anyone who has
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with