Thursday morning news – May 14th, 2020

Fed chair urges action to stave off prolonged recession » Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is warning that without further action, America could be facing a prolonged recession. 

POWELL: The record shows that deeper and longer recessions can leave behind lasting damage to the productive capacity of the economy. Avoidable household and business insolvencies can weigh on growth for years to come. 

Powell said the Fed will continue to use its tools “to their fullest,” but it’s largely up to Congress and the White House to do more. He added that—quoting here—“additional fiscal support could be costly, but worth it, if it helps avoid long-term damage.” 

POWELL: This trade off is one for our elected representatives, who wield powers of taxation and spending. 

Powell’s urging comes on the heels of a warning from the United Nations that the global economic fallout from COVID-19 could wind up killing more people than the illness itself. 

According to an L.A. Times report this week, the UN predicts a “global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty.” It warned that hunger is already rising in the poorest parts of the world. 

Republicans call $3 trillion House relief bill a non-starter » Meantime, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have very different views of what the next step should be. 

Republican leaders say a massive relief bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveiled this week is a non-starter. The $3 trillion package would include $1 trillion for states and cities, $200 billion in “hazard pay” for essential workers, and a new round of cash payments to individuals.

PELOSI: The HEROES Act focuses on three key pillars: opening our economy safely and soon, honoring our heroes, and then putting much needed money into the pockets of the American people. 

It would extend a federal boost of unemployment benefits through January and add a 15 percent increase for food stamps, among other measures. 

But Republicans say it’s also stuffed with extraneous measures like funding for government arts and humanities programs and the expansion of mail-in voting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the proposal a grab bag of “pet priorities.”  

MCCONNELL: We are going to insist on doing narrowly targeted legislation—if and when we do legislate again, and we may well—that addresses the problems, the needs and not the aspirations of the Democratic majority in the House. 

Democrats wrote the enormous bill with no real input from Republicans. Most GOP lawmakers say Congress should assess the impact of earlier relief bills before spending trillions more. 

That national debt now stands at more than $25 trillion.

Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down stay-at-home order » The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ coronavirus stay-at-home order Wednesday. In its 4-to-3 ruling, the court ruled that his administration overstepped its authority when it extended the order for another month without consulting legislators.

The decision essentially reopens the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants. 

However, the decision let stand language that had closed schools and local governments can still impose their own health restrictions. 

In Dane County, home to the capital of Madison, officials quickly imposed a mandate incorporating most of the statewide order. And officials in Milwaukee said a stay-at-home order enacted in March remains in effect.

Sec. Pompeo meets with Israeli prime minister in Jerusalem » Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Wednesday—his first overseas trip in almost two months.

They talked over a range of issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Pompeo thanked Israel for its openness and took another jab at China’s handling of the pandemic. 

POMPEO: You’re a great partner. You share information, unlike some other countries that try to obfuscate and hide that information, and we’ll talk about that country too. 

They also talked about ongoing counterterrorism efforts and resumed talks over the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.

Pompeo’s visit came at a tense time, as Israeli troops searched for those behind the killing of an Israeli soldier a day earlier during an army raid of a West Bank village.

One of the key items on the agenda was Israel’s intention to annex parts of the West Bank. Pompeo said he was coming to hear Netanyahu and Benny Gantz’s views on the matter.

Netanyahu and Gantz, the Blue and White party leader, struck a power-sharing deal last month to form a government. Under the deal, Netanyahu would remain prime minister for the next year and a half before handing the post to his rival. 

U.S. officials: Chinese hackers might be targeting virus researchers » U.S. officials are warning that organizations conducting research into COVID-19 could be targeted by computer hackers linked to the Chinese government. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned organizations involved in work on COVID-19 vaccines to step up their security measures. 

And the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued this warning: “China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19. ” 

The Department of Justice said institutions that have received media attention for their efforts related to COVID-19 should assume that they would be targeted.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Republican Mike Garcia wins U.S. House special election in CA » Republican Mike Garcia has successfully flipped a U.S. House seat in California. That makes him the first Republican to do so in 22 years. 

While election officials were still counting votes on Wednesday, Democrat Christy Smith conceded the special election in the 25th District. 

Garcia will fill the vacant seat of former Congresswoman Katie Hill who resigned in October, and he’ll serve out the remaining 8 months of her term.

But Garcia and Smith will both be back on the ballot in November.

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, Pool) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets Israeli Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, Wednesday, May 13, 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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