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Latest from Rick Couri

    A man is safe after firefighters rescued him from a fire at an apartment in Sapulpa early Wednesday morning. Firefighters say someone reported the fire at an apartment building near Main St. and Dewey Ave. just before 2 a.m. Crews got there and rescued a man inside who had been sleeping in the unit next to the one that was on fire. That man didn’t get hurt and went to stay with family. First responders tell us there was no one inside the unit  where the fire started, and they’re still working to find out how it began. The owner told firefighters the building is one of the oldest standing structures in Sapulpa, it’s an old house that has been converted into apartments. One of the units is a total loss, but the entire building will still be able to be used.
  • The city is using it’s Facebook page to ask what your favorite things about downtown, and what you would like to see developed further. They write: Whether you're in Downtown Tulsa every day or only visit once a year, we hope you'll take a few minutes to complete the survey. This is your opportunity to say what matters most for the future of Downtown as a neighborhood where all residents, workers and visitors are welcome. Please share this survey with family, friends and coworkers, we value your input. The Downtown Tulsa Community Survey is available now through February 29 by tapping or clicking here.
  • The biggest crowd to cram into HA Chapman stadium will be on hand as the Cowboy’s visit Tulsa for the first of several games in the newly renewed series. Take a look below for all the info you need. THE GAME CAPSULE: The Game: Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium on the TU campus Game time: 2:35 p.m. Hurricane Alley: Opens at 11:30 a.m. on Chapman Commons Team Walk: Approximately 12:15 p.m. from Collins Hall on 8th Street (east of the Fountains) Gates Open: 1:00 p.m. For Tickets: Online at www.TulsaHurricane.com or call 918.631.GoTU (4688) Tickets on Game Day: The Reynolds Center Ticket Office will be open on Saturday from 9-12 p.m. Stadium ticket booths will open at 1:00 p.m. The ticket booths are located at the four corners of the stadium. CASH only is accepted at the ticket booths on east side; credit cards will be accepted at the west side ticket booths. Will Call Windows: Open at 1:00 p.m. Ticket Prices: $75 TV Coverage: ESPN 2 Radio: Big Country 99.5 FM  CAIN’S ON CHAPMAN CONCERT SERIES: Hurricane Alley is located on Chapman Commons and provides fans an entertainment area prior to the game. Hurricane Alley will open at 11:30 a.m. for the Tulsa-Oklahoma State game. Concert with past American Idol contestant and Nashville Recording Artist Emily Brooke will begin at 12:30 p.m. Inflatable games for kids, TU Alumni Association Tent and Beer Garden Open and more is part of the pre-game festivities on Chapman Commons. 11th STREET BLOCK PARTY PRESENTED BY COX: The 11th Street Block party presented by COX will take place on 11th street from 11-2 p.m. (11th street between Harvard and Delaware Avenues will be closed beginning at 7 a.m.) The block party features food trucks, beer & wine, seating areas, inflatable and vendors. TEAM WALK: The Tulsa Team Walk from Collins Hall (east of the Fountains) to the locker room down 8th Street takes place at approximately 12:15 p.m.  PARKING: PAY lots are open on the north side of campus at East 4th and Harvard Ave. and the East 4th Place and Harvard/Keplinger Lot. Other parking lots on campus are designated as credentialed lots.  CLEAR BAG POLICY… The University of Tulsa has implemented a clear bag policy that limits the size and types of bags that may be brought in by fans to ticketed venues. The University strongly encourages all fans not to bring unauthorized types of bags to H.A. Chapman Stadium Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12' x 6' x 12' are allowed.  Fans are able to carry the following style and size of bag, package, or container into the stadium: · One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar). · Small clutch bags, approximately the size of a hand (4.5” x 6.5”), with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the venue with one of the clear plastic bags. · An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection. · Spectators also will be able to carry other items allowed in such as binoculars and cameras, but their cases will not be allowed. · Working personnel, including accredited news media, will continue to enter through designated gates where they will be subject to screening and bag inspections of the same manner as in the past.  GAMEDAY TWITTER: For up-to-date game day information including stadium information, parking and weather updates follow the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Gameday Operations Twitter Account @TULSA_GameOps  HYDRATION STATIONS: Complimentary hydration stations and cool zones will feature free water and misters for fans to battle the heat.  THE KIDS ZONE: The Kids Zone Area inside the stadium is located behind Section 114 (southwest side of the stadium). This area features bounce houses, games and more.  SEASON TICKET HOLDERS/OTHER VISITORS: Season Ticket Holders and other visitors to the stadium are requested to enter through Gates 1, 1A, 2, 3, 5, 6A & 7.  TICKET PURCHASES: Tickets may be purchased at the ticket booths located at each of the four corners of the stadium beginning 1.5 hours prior to prior to kickoff. Cash only is accepted at the east side ticket booths, credit cards will be accepted at the west side ticket booths.  Will Call: General Will Call tickets can be picked up at the Reynolds Center ticket office. TU Player Pass Will Call (Gate 2) and Visitors’ Will Call (Gate 6). Will Call opens 1.5 hours prior to kickoff.  Student Gate (GATE 6A): TU students are encouraged to enter the stadium through Gate 6A. Students must present a valid TU Student ID card, which will be scanned upon entry.  Handicap: Special entrances are provided at Gates 1, 1A, 6A and 7 for those guests with special needs and disabilities. Handicap Parking is available in the south corner of the Lorton Village Parking Lot, west of the stadium. These spaces are reserved strictly for those vehicles displaying a valid Handicap Parking Permit. Handicap seating is available on the west side of the stadium in Sections 114-117, south end zone in Sections 109, 110 and 113, and Sections 105-108 on the east side of the stadium. Contact the TU Athletic Ticket Office at 918.631.4688 for tickets in the handicap seating areas.  No Re-Entry: There is NO Re-entry allowed, other than for medical emergencies. To ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone at H.A. Chapman Stadium, re-entry will not be allowed once you have left the stadium.  Emergencies: Medical assistance is available in the southwest corner of H.A. Chapman Stadium (near Gate 1). EMSA is present during each game. If an emergency arises, ask the nearest usher for assistance. The emergency phone number for H.A. Chapman Stadium is 918.631.3664 or 918.631.5555.  Telephones: Cell phone charging stations provided by Lexus will be located on the east and west sides of the stadium. There are no public pay phones located in H.A. Chapman Stadium.  ATM: ATM’s are located west of the Press Box, behind Section 116 on Thomas Plaza, and behind Section 107 on the east side of the stadium.  Public Address System: The PA system is intended primarily for spectators’ information concerning the game. Please do not request use of the PA system to make social contacts.  Restrooms: Restrooms are located underneath the stands on the east side of H.A. Chapman Stadium. On the west side, restrooms are located next to the concession stands along Thomas Plaza.  Lost and Found: Lost and found items can be dropped off and claimed at the Security Command Post on the west side of the stadium, north of the Thomas A. Johnston Atrium, behind Section 118.  Concession Stands: Concession stands and food vendors are located throughout the stadium. Main concession areas include underneath the east stands, in the lower level of the apartments west of Thomas Plaza, and throughout Thomas Plaza on the west side of the stadium. Stand-alone beer stands are also available on both sides of the stadium. Beer is sold through the 3rd quarter.  Prohibited Items: The following items are prohibited in H.A. Chapman Stadium: bags larger than 12”x6”x12”, firearms or weapons of any type, camcorders, umbrellas, folding chairs, outside food and beverages, alcoholic beverages, thermos jugs and ice chests. Artificial noisemakers of any kind are prohibited. Use of any tobacco product (including electronic cigarettes) is prohibited in all seating areas, restrooms, elevators, press box levels and on the field. Heightened security measures are in effect. Bag and purse checks will occur prior to entering the stadium.  Banners: H.A. Chapman Stadium banners must be approved the week prior to the game. For approval, contact Drew Friedman via email at drf149@utulsa.edu or by calling 918.631.2323. Unapproved banners may be removed from the stadium by event personnel.  Field Regulations / Press Box: No person is permitted on the playing field before, during, or after the game without proper credentials as issued by The University of Tulsa Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or unless accompanied by athletics personnel. Press Box access is strictly prohibited without proper credential.  Request for Assistance: Requests for assistance should be directed to the ushers located throughout the stadium, or to the Security Command Post (located under the west stands).    
  • Linde Oktoberfest, the annual celebration of German food, music, and culture is less than two months away, and assistance putting on the party is needed! Both USA Today and Condé Nast Traveler Magazine have rated Tulsa’s Oktoberfest as top five in the nation. Title sponsor Linde engineering brings out dozens of people to help, but more than 1,000 volunteers are still needed. Those involved will pour, sell, guide, lift, and Chicken Dance through the run of the show. Everyone pitching in will get a few perks, like a volunteer t-shirt, admittance to the volunteer hospitality zone, and a special invitation for you and a guest to attend the post-festival thank-you party. You can find a way to take part here. Linde Oktoberfest takes over River West Festival Park from October 17th through the 20th.
  • KRMG just received the following note from Sand Springs police. Our 911 service and non-emergency lines have been affected by a fire at the AT&T offices in Tulsa. YOU MAY CALL (918-246-2546) FOR ASSISTANCE from SSPD/SSFD or EMSA. We will only have one line operational right now, so please do not call this number for general questions, only for emergencies. We will stage officers and firefighters who are not assigned to calls to the following locations that you can go to if you need help: City Hall - 100 E. Broadway QT North - 200 S. Highway 97 Charles Page High School - 500 n. Adams Road QT South - 2 E. 41st Corner of 41st and 129th W. Ave.
  • NASA is sending a rover flight to the Red Planet in 2020. They want you to be part of it. On the web page NASA 2020, the agency writes;  'As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,' said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. ‘It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.’ The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and 'frequent flyer' points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA's journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each 'flight,' with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA's InSight mission to Mars, giving each 'flyer' about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers). From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here. Good luck, we’re not sure if there will be snacks on the flight.
  • With more than 160,000 cubic feet of water per second gushing out of Keystone Dam and more rain expected over the next few days, the city if Tulsa wants you to know more about flooding. The city released an updated flood map you can access by tapping on the link below. Keystone Dam Inundation Map  The map shows the path of the Arkansas river from Keystone Lake all the way past Muskogee, Webers Falls, and into Ft. Smith. The city suggests using the map to get a good idea about how much any property you own or rent could be affected by the release. With more severe weather possible tonight, keep KRMG close-by so you can be prepared and  know the latest about the weather.
  • Reports began coming in to emergency workers just before 8 am, saying the workers platform was “swinging wildly out of control,” at the Devon Energy building in Oklahoma City.  The Oklahoma City Fire department tweeted the video below showing the platform smashing into the building, breaking glass. Crews now report the basket is once again secured and the two workers inside are secure and being checked by medics.
  • Police say Sarah Hill, a non-custodial parent, picked Austin up from school Monday and went missing.  Cops tell is Sarah was driving a maroon, 2007 Mazda CX-7 with license plate EKP237. Police ask anyone with information to call 918-968-2733.                    
  • It’s been a productive first 100 days for Jenks businessman Kevin Stitt. That’s according to the man himself, and those working for him.  “We’ve gone from legislature vs governor, cabinet secretary vs cabinet secretary, to everyone working together,” Commerce secretary Sean Kouplen told us.  Stitt believes his biggest step forward is requiring accountability. But he tells the KRMG Morning News he’s also enjoying the job. “People ask me what’s the biggest surprise, and I tell them it’s how much fun I’m having,” he began. “It’s so cool to get a new job and to really be enjoying it.” Joining the KRMG Morning News for an in-depth hour on his first 100 days, Stitt told us work is getting done in a different way.  “I am bringing a different environment and atmosphere to the capitol.” Lieutenant governor Matt Pinnell is pleased to see the governor instill a sense of accountability. “I come into my cabinet meetings every week and we’re not just sitting around shooting the breeze,” he told KRMG. “We have real metrics,” he added. “ What are our one month goals, what are our two month goals, what are our quarterly and one-year goals,” he went on. Stitt promises to continue his high energy approach, something Kouplen believes will happen. “If I’ve heard him say ‘move the needle’ once, I’ve heard him say it 100 times,” Kouplen chuckled. Join the KRMG Morning News from 8 am-9 am today to hear governor Stitt and some of his key cabinet members as we cover their biggest achievements, and plans for the future. Listen to the entire hour here.
  • Rick Couri

    Managing Editor

    Rick Couri began his career with KRMG in 1982 and has since done "everything you could do" at the station. Rick has covered top sporting events such as the Olympic Games, the World Series, football bowl games and championship tennis. He even spent a day with boxing great Muhammad Ali. On the news side Rick was in Joplin and Moore hours after F-5 tornados. He’s also covered political conventions and a presidential visit.

    Rick is entering his 32nd year as the color voice for TU basketball, and 16th year as the play-by-play voice for Union football. He’s also broadcast Tulsa basketball, Oklahoma State football, and spent seven years as the voice of the Tulsa Talons Arena league football team.

    Rick and Christine, his wife of 28-years, have three children. Son Kelly (38), and his wife Jill, are the parents of granddaughters Hayden, and Hannah. 34-year-old daughter Lindsey works for Union public schools, and 21-year-old daughter Delaney Catalina is a senior education major at Texas A&M University. When away from the microphone, Rick is a 22 year PADI scuba instructor. He and his family have a dive instruction company, http://www.okiescuba.com/. While Rick will tell you he is a "sports guy", those familiar with the Tulsa market know Rick's influence extends well outside the circle of sports. As Co-host of the KRMG Morning News, Rick has interviewed everyone from local celebrities to national figures.  A community leader who gives of his time and talent, Rick's commitment to the annual funding campaign for Operation Aware has resulted in over $1.3 million dollars being raised for this important charity. KRMG listeners have learned to appreciate Rick's insightful reporting and have developed a trust unique in today's media personalities. 

    Read More
  • After talking for days about relaxing federal calls for Americans to drastically restrict their social activities in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he would be extending those guidelines through the end of April, after new estimates showed the threat of a huge number of deaths from the virus outbreak. 'The peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,' the President told reporters gathered in the Rose Garden. 'Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.' 'We will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread,' Mr. Trump said, urging Americans to help by limiting their social activities.  'The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,' the President added. The President said the decision was made after new modeling made available to the White House estimated the death totals from the Coronavirus could run over 1 million unless strong mitigation efforts were taken by Americans. At the White House, top federal experts endorsed the President's course change. 'We feel that the mitigation we are doing right now is having an effect 'The decision to prolong - not prolong, but extend - this mitigation process until the end of April, I think was a wise and prudent decision,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci. White House Coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx said the 'growing number of potential fatalities' shown by the models made clear the need for more action to hold down the spread of the virus. Birx told reporters it is 'not a simple situation when you ask people to stay home for another 30 days, so they have to know that we really built this on scientific evidence and the potential to save hundreds of thousands of American lives.' “To every metro area out there, we have to do better,' Dr. Birx said at the Sunday briefing.
  • The mayors of OKlahoma's two largest cities have announced they will expand and more closely enforce “stay at home” measures for the general public as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum enacted a 'Shelter in Place' order on Saturday for all age groups in the city to last from March 28 to April 16.  The 'Safer at Home' order mirrors the executive order made by Governor Stitt on Tuesday.   Mayor Bynum's order was announced hours after 7 more COVID-19 deaths were reported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
  • With some public friction over the federal Coronavirus response, President Donald Trump on Friday again singled out the Governor of Michigan and the Governor of Washington State for criticism, telling reporters that he had discouraged Vice President Mike Pence from calling either one to discuss the virus response. 'When they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps (of Engineers), they're not appreciative to FEMA. It's not right,' President Trump said at a Friday White House briefing. 'All I want them to do, very simple, I want them to be appreciative,' the President added. 'We've done a great job,' the President said. 'I think the media and governors should appreciate it.' The President's comments came as he continued to spar long distance with Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) of Michigan. Inslee has already been a frequent target of the President - who referred to him in one briefing as a 'snake' - acknowledging that he has urged Vice President Pence not to call the Washington Democrat. 'I say Mike, don't call the Governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him,' Mr. Trump said. 'Don't call the woman in Michigan.' In an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the President took aim at Whitmer, who has complained of troubles in getting medical supplies for hospitals to combat the virus outbreak. 'We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about from Michigan,' the President said. While Gov. Whitmer went on TV to respond to the President, Inslee used Mr. Trump's favored mode of social media. 'I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy,' Inslee tweeted. While Inslee avoided barbs from the White House on Friday night, Whitmer did not. “Governor, Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her ahead, she doesn’t have a clue,” the President tweeted. Michigan has become a flash point in recent days in the fight to stop the Coronavirus; 32 deaths were announced on Friday, almost as many as the two previous days combined. 28 deaths were announced on Friday in Washington State, raising the death toll there to 175 people, second most of any state.
  • It was a scary day on Friday for Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who sent a message on Twitter that his son Jim took a bad fall while playing with his brothers at the family's ranch and hit his head. “He was unconscious and his vitals were very weak.  They had to life-flight him to Tulsa,” Mullin said in a video clip that he posted to Twitter as he was on his way back to Tulsa from Washington D.C. Since he first got word about the accident from his wife, he says his son has improved and was due released soon, Mullin citing the need to free up beds at the hospital for the Covid-19 crisis. He also voiced his appreciation for the prayers that were sent to him by friends and supporters.
  • With the backing of the White House and leaders in both parties, the U.S. House on Friday approved an emergency economic rescue plan to help the economy deal with the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, as lawmakers on both sides put aside their differences on the details of the over $2 trillion package.  President Trump signed it into law several hours later. 'We need to support this bill now,' said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). 'The coronavirus has been a nuclear bomb to our economy,' said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). 'We've never faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,' said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). The main theater in the House Chamber during debate was not about who was for or against the bill, but whether Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) would follow through on his threat to force a recorded vote on the measure, amid questions about whether enough lawmakers were present for a quorum. Under the rules, Massie - who did not speak during the debate - needed the support of several dozen lawmakers to force a vote. But Massie did not get that backing, and the bill was approved on a voice vote, to the applause of lawmakers, who sat both on the House floor, and in the galleries above. In debate, lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns about how their local hospitals might not be able to deal with an outbreak of the virus. 'For those from rural districts like mine, our hospitals cannot handle the onslaught of patients,' said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL). 'Hospitals in my district face a situation as dire as it has been in my 18 years in Congress.' Lawmakers who flew back to Washington for the debate said the impact on the airline industry was obvious. 'There were two members of Congress on the plane out of a total of four passengers,' said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who flew from St. Louis.  'You don't think that industry is on the brink of collapse - use it right now, and you will see,' Davis added. The House vote came as a third member of the House announced that he had tested positive, Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman Democrat from South Carolina. The package includes direct checks to Americans, billions in emergency aid for businesses big and small, money for state and local governments, and help for hospitals fighting the Coronavirus. “This is the biggest economic and health crisis the country has ever faced,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

Washington Insider

  • After talking for days about relaxing federal calls for Americans to drastically restrict their social activities in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he would be extending those guidelines through the end of April, after new estimates showed the threat of a huge number of deaths from the virus outbreak. 'The peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks,' the President told reporters gathered in the Rose Garden. 'Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.' 'We will be extending our guidelines to April 30, to slow the spread,' Mr. Trump said, urging Americans to help by limiting their social activities.  'The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,' the President added. The President said the decision was made after new modeling made available to the White House estimated the death totals from the Coronavirus could run over 1 million unless strong mitigation efforts were taken by Americans. At the White House, top federal experts endorsed the President's course change. 'We feel that the mitigation we are doing right now is having an effect 'The decision to prolong - not prolong, but extend - this mitigation process until the end of April, I think was a wise and prudent decision,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci. White House Coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx said the 'growing number of potential fatalities' shown by the models made clear the need for more action to hold down the spread of the virus. Birx told reporters it is 'not a simple situation when you ask people to stay home for another 30 days, so they have to know that we really built this on scientific evidence and the potential to save hundreds of thousands of American lives.' “To every metro area out there, we have to do better,' Dr. Birx said at the Sunday briefing.
  • With some public friction over the federal Coronavirus response, President Donald Trump on Friday again singled out the Governor of Michigan and the Governor of Washington State for criticism, telling reporters that he had discouraged Vice President Mike Pence from calling either one to discuss the virus response. 'When they're not appreciative to me, they're not appreciative to the Army Corps (of Engineers), they're not appreciative to FEMA. It's not right,' President Trump said at a Friday White House briefing. 'All I want them to do, very simple, I want them to be appreciative,' the President added. 'We've done a great job,' the President said. 'I think the media and governors should appreciate it.' The President's comments came as he continued to spar long distance with Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) of Michigan. Inslee has already been a frequent target of the President - who referred to him in one briefing as a 'snake' - acknowledging that he has urged Vice President Pence not to call the Washington Democrat. 'I say Mike, don't call the Governor of Washington, you're wasting your time with him,' Mr. Trump said. 'Don't call the woman in Michigan.' In an interview Thursday night with Sean Hannity on Fox News, the President took aim at Whitmer, who has complained of troubles in getting medical supplies for hospitals to combat the virus outbreak. 'We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor, you know who I’m talking about from Michigan,' the President said. While Gov. Whitmer went on TV to respond to the President, Inslee used Mr. Trump's favored mode of social media. 'I’m not going to let personal attacks from the president distract me from what matters: beating this virus and keeping Washingtonians healthy,' Inslee tweeted. While Inslee avoided barbs from the White House on Friday night, Whitmer did not. “Governor, Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is way in over her ahead, she doesn’t have a clue,” the President tweeted. Michigan has become a flash point in recent days in the fight to stop the Coronavirus; 32 deaths were announced on Friday, almost as many as the two previous days combined. 28 deaths were announced on Friday in Washington State, raising the death toll there to 175 people, second most of any state.
  • With the backing of the White House and leaders in both parties, the U.S. House on Friday approved an emergency economic rescue plan to help the economy deal with the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, as lawmakers on both sides put aside their differences on the details of the over $2 trillion package.  President Trump signed it into law several hours later. 'We need to support this bill now,' said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). 'The coronavirus has been a nuclear bomb to our economy,' said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH). 'We've never faced a public health crisis of this magnitude,' said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). The main theater in the House Chamber during debate was not about who was for or against the bill, but whether Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) would follow through on his threat to force a recorded vote on the measure, amid questions about whether enough lawmakers were present for a quorum. Under the rules, Massie - who did not speak during the debate - needed the support of several dozen lawmakers to force a vote. But Massie did not get that backing, and the bill was approved on a voice vote, to the applause of lawmakers, who sat both on the House floor, and in the galleries above. In debate, lawmakers of both parties expressed concerns about how their local hospitals might not be able to deal with an outbreak of the virus. 'For those from rural districts like mine, our hospitals cannot handle the onslaught of patients,' said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL). 'Hospitals in my district face a situation as dire as it has been in my 18 years in Congress.' Lawmakers who flew back to Washington for the debate said the impact on the airline industry was obvious. 'There were two members of Congress on the plane out of a total of four passengers,' said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who flew from St. Louis.  'You don't think that industry is on the brink of collapse - use it right now, and you will see,' Davis added. The House vote came as a third member of the House announced that he had tested positive, Rep. Joe Cunningham, a freshman Democrat from South Carolina. The package includes direct checks to Americans, billions in emergency aid for businesses big and small, money for state and local governments, and help for hospitals fighting the Coronavirus. “This is the biggest economic and health crisis the country has ever faced,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
  • As Congress pushes ahead with a landmark economic stimulus plan to offset the negative impact of the Coronavirus, lawmakers not only put in provisions to funnel money to Americans and help businesses stay afloat, but also structured oversight for the billions in loans going to big businesses, and helped out a few specific players along the way. First, if you want to read through the text of the bill as approved by the Senate on Wednesday night, you can find the 880 page bill here. For those who want the short version, the table of contents for the bill gives you a good preview of what's to come. Now let's jump in and find a few interesting items in the bill. + 1. Restrictions aimed squarely at President Trump and his family. Section 4019 of the bill is titled, 'Conflicts of Interest,' and is intended to prohibit top government officials from benefiting in any way from the emergency aid being delivered in this bill. It lists the President, Vice President, member of Congress, top Executive Branch officials as people covered by this prohibition. But it goes further - adding, 'spouse, child, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law' as well. One GOP Senator pointed out the 'son-in-law' provision. 'I wonder who that could be targeted towards,' said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in a mocking tone, referring to Jared Kushner, as Lankford said Democrats were wrong to pursue such provisions. 'A lot of this fight that we've had over the last three days is because they were demanding that there was no way the President, or any member of his family could get any benefit from this loan program at all,' Lankford said. Democrats won those provisions. + 2. Temporary tax break for makers of hand sanitizer. With various alcohol producers switching over some of their production in recent weeks to make hand sanitizer, this bill also provides a temporary exception to the excise tax on the alcohol used to make hand sanitizer products. To an outsider, it shouldn't be any big deal for a liquor producer to shift into production of hand sanitizer, but in reality - it can have pretty big tax implications in how the federal government deals with the process. For example, after a company makes over 100,000 gallons of alcohol, the tax goes from $2.70 per gallon to over $13 per gallon. This provision on page 212 would allow those hand sanitizer products to be made without being hit by those higher taxes. Here was the social media appeal from one company in Maryland. 3. Special oversight for economic recovery spending. As part of provisions providing public insight into what companies get what kind of aid from the federal government, this bill sets up a special Inspector General inside the Treasury Department dealing with the 'Pandemic Recovery.' The internal watchdog would be charged with 'audits and investigations of the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under any program established by the Secretary under this Act.' There is also a new 'Congressional Oversight Commission,' with members appointed by various parts of the government, to oversee the operations of this economic recovery effort - all to guide against favoritism, and any questionable financial awards - much like there was with the Obama stimulus in 2009. 4. Postal Service gets special loan help. Just like after the anthrax attacks following Nine Eleven, the U.S. Postal Service finds itself in a crunch with the Coronavirus. Not only are some employees getting sick, but mail volume is going down - and that's leading to an even bleaker financial outlook. The Coronavirus rescue bill does not give a blank check to the Postal Service, but instead allows it to borrow up to $10 billion from the U.S. Treasury. Page 607 of the bill specifically says the money can only be used to pay for operating expenses - and not any outstanding debt of the Postal Service. The bill also orders the Postal Service to prioritize the delivery of medical products related to the Coronavirus, and also gives the Postal Service the right to establish 'temporary delivery points' during the outbreak, in order to shield employees from the virus. 5. Miscellaneous Provisions. Any reporter who has gone through Congressional spending bills starts to get a little excited when you get to the section labeled 'Miscellaneous Provisions' - and this bill does not disappoint. Starting on page 609, there is a laundry list of extra money sent to various government agencies to deal with the Coronavirus. Some, like money for food safety won't raise any eyebrows. But others were quickly getting the thumbs down from some GOP lawmakers who actually read their way through the details of the bill. 6. There is no Congressional Pay Raise. Let me say it again. There is no pay raise for members of the House and Senate, no matter what you read on Twitter or Facebook. The troublemakers on Twitter didn't take long in spreading fake news about the details of this bill, accusing lawmakers of voting themselves a pay raise. Let me be very clear - that did *not* happen in this bill. There is no reference to the underlying federal code which governs the pay of lawmakers (section 601(a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (2 U.S.C. 4501)).  Is there extra money for Congress in this bill? Yes, there is. The Senate gets $10 million, and the House gets $25 million. Where would that money go? It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with items like extra medical, safety, and security precautions for 435 members of the House. Expanded telework with laptops, servers, and more. Cleaning crews to deal with any outbreaks that might touch Congressional offices or the Capitol complex. And finally, even if lawmakers voted themselves a pay raise, they would not be allowed to get any extra money until the new Congress. That's not a law - that's in the Constitution.
  • The morning after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved an unprecedented $2 trillion economic rescue package to confront the negative impact of the Coronavirus outbreak, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was already thinking ahead to the next Congressional move to spur economic growth. 'We have to do more,' the Speaker said at a U.S. Capitol news conference, as she told reporters about a phone conversation with Jerome Powell, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 'The Chairman of the Fed, Mr. Powell said to me, interest rates are low, think big,'  'There's no question that more money will be needed,' Pelosi added, as she indicated there would be support to funnel more money directly to Americans. 'I don't think we've seen the end of direct payments,' the Speaker said. Pelosi said the House would vote Friday to approve the $2 trillion economic package, most likely by a voice vote. 'We will have a victory tomorrow for America's workers. If somebody has a different point of view they can put that in the record,' the Speaker said.