WASHINGTON, USA – With the economy reeling, United States President Donald Trump on Friday, March 13, declared a national emergency to stem the damage from the coronavirus, unlocking $50 billion in federal spending while also unveiling plans to stockpile oil and waive interest payments on student loans.
Hours later, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced she had reached an agreement with the White House on stimulus legislation to help people impacted by the outbreak, something economists say is critical to prevent an economic downturn.
Trump's speech cheered Wall Street and sent the Dow up 9.3%, much needed good news after a week that saw the index suffer its worst day of trading since 1987 and the Federal Reserve inject $1.5 trillion into money markets to keep the financial system running.
"The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion...for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease," Trump said.
With oil prices hammered by the outbreak, Trump said the US will also "purchase at a very good price large quantities of crude oil" for storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) emergency stockpile, a move that could help US producers.
"We're going to fill it right up to the top, saving the American taxpayer billions and billions of dollars," Trump said, but gave no specific amount or timing for the oil purchase. The SPR most recently held 635 million barrels of its capacity of 713.5 million.