Treasury wants to start issuing checks next month, foreclosures suspended

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US President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus alongside Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Coronavirus Task Force in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 9, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Treasury Department wants to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month as the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy amid the coronavirus epidemic.

In addition, President Trump says the Department Housing and Urban Development will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April.

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In a memorandum issued Wednesday, Treasury is calling for two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May.

The amounts would depend on income and family size.

The Treasury plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion to for small businesses.

The President also moved to invoke a federal law that allows the government to marshal the private sector to deal with the coronavirus epidemic, as the economic damage mounted with word that Detroit’s Big Three automakers agreed to shut down all their factories to protect workers.

On a day of head-spinning developments, stocks tumbled again on Wall Street. More borders slammed shut across Europe and North America, with the U.S. and Canada agreeing to close their shared boundary to all but essential travel.

Donald Trump now is calling himself a “wartime president” as he tries to come to grips with the dual health and economic crises of the coronavirus pandemic.

He’s invoking a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the pandemic. Trump said he will employ the Defense Production Act “in case we need it” as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus.

The Senate is taking up a financial aid package while the administration pushes forward its economic relief plan.