Tuesday morning news – March 24, 2020


Senate again fails to advance coronavirus bill, but reportedly make progress in talks » Another day of deadlock on Capitol Hill as the Senate again failed to make concrete progress on a coronavirus response bill. 

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he still couldn’t endorse the bill as written.

SCHUMER: The bill still includes something that most Americans don’t want to see, large corporate bailouts with almost no strings attached. 

Republicans say it’s not a bailout to offer loans to big employers that are largely or entirely shut down through no fault of their own, some by government order. 

GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine blasted the chamber for once again failing to act. 

COLLINS: When people are dying from the coronavirus; when we are facing unemployment rates, which could go as high as 20 percent according to the treasury secretary, surely we ought to be able to pull together. 

But after another contentious day of bickering and finger pointing, the two sides reportedly moved closer together during negotiations last night and may be close to a deal. 

The Washington Post reports that some senators wanted Schumer to announce a deal in principle Monday evening. But he decided to hold off until they settle a few unresolved issues. 

Fed announces bold steps to prop up, markets, economy » Meantime, the Federal Reserve is unleashing its boldest effort yet to protect the economy from a coronavirus crash. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: With lending in treasury and mortgage markets threatening to shut down, the Fed announced an aggressive set of programs Monday. It committed to buy as much government-backed debt as it deems necessary. And for the first time ever, the Fed said it plans to buy corporate debt, too.

Its intervention is intended to ensure that households, companies, banks, and governments can get the loans they need—at a time when their own revenue is fast drying up as the economy stalls.

The Fed will provide up to $300 billion by purchasing corporate bonds, a wider range of municipal bonds, and securities tied to debt like auto and real estate loans. It will also buy an unlimited amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities to try to hold down borrowing rates and ensure those markets function smoothly.

With Monday’s moves the Fed’s all-out effort to support the flow of credit has now gone beyond even the extraordinary steps it took during the financial crisis of 2008. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Georgia issues new restrictions to slow spread of virus » Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Monday issued new restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but stopped short of a total shelter-in-place order. 

Georgians who meet a certain criteria and are considered at “high risk” of serious illness from the coronavirus must shelter in place. 

KEMP: This order will also close all bars and nightclubs, and it will ban all gatherings of 10 or more people, unless you can maintain 6 feet between people at all times. 

The public gathering ban may effectively shut down dine-in restaurants, though they are not expressly mentioned in the governor’s order. Some critics said the order did not go far enough. 

According to the National Governors Association, at least 29 states have placed limits on gatherings. And 37 states are restricting some businesses, including bars and restaurants. 

Australia, Canada boycotting Tokyo Olympics unless delayed to 2021 » Australia is the latest country to announce that it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games—unless they’re postponed until 2021. The head of the Australian Olympic Committee made the announcement Monday. 

CARROLL: We have to look after not only our athletes and officials, but also their family who are feeling concern for their sons and their daughters. 

Canada made a similar announcement earlier this week. And the head of the British Olympic Association said Monday that his county will likely join Canada and Australia in drawing a line in the sand. 

Craig Reedie, a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee, said amid the coronavirus pandemic, a postponement is likely. But he added “The length of postponement is the major challenge for the IOC.”

The games were scheduled to start July 24th. 

Pompeo departs Kabul following talks with dueling leaders » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Afghanistan on Monday after trying to broker an agreement between the country’s squabbling political leaders. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Secretary Pompeo was in Kabul on an urgent visit to try to move forward a U.S. peace deal signed last month with the Taliban. But as his plane took off Monday, there was still no announcement on whether he was able to bring the two sides together. 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, remain at a political impasse. That as Abdullah and his supporters do not accept the results of the country’s recent election or the legitimacy of Ghani’s victory. Both men declared themselves president in dueling inauguration ceremonies earlier this month.

The political turmoil has stalled progress toward a peace deal with the Taliban. Reports out of the Afghan capital suggested that Pompeo had given Ghani and Abdullah until today to come up with a compromise. But still no indication either side has offered to step aside.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.


(Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) Gov. Brian Kemp speaks as other officials stand behind during a press conference to provide an update on the state’s efforts regarding COVID-19, after reporting the first death in Georgia related to coronavirus, at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, March 12, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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