U.S. markets open in 7 hours 48 minutes
  • S&P Futures

    4,231.25
    +6.00 (+0.14%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    34,772.00
    +86.00 (+0.25%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    13,712.00
    +2.25 (+0.02%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    2,271.00
    +3.10 (+0.14%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    65.18
    +0.28 (+0.43%)
     
  • Gold

    1,836.10
    +4.80 (+0.26%)
     
  • Silver

    27.89
    +0.41 (+1.50%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2161
    -0.0007 (-0.06%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.5770
    0.0000 (0.00%)
     
  • Vix

    16.69
    -1.70 (-9.24%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.4050
    +0.0060 (+0.43%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    108.8050
    +0.2230 (+0.21%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    58,790.71
    +452.27 (+0.78%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,560.08
    +124.30 (+8.66%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,129.71
    +53.54 (+0.76%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    29,515.08
    +157.26 (+0.54%)
     
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Yahoo Finance Presents: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In this episode of Yahoo Finance Presents, Rick Newman speaks with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about Congress' coronavirus relief bill and what lawmakers are doing to protect NY.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RICK NEWMAN: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York, thank you for joining us "Yahoo Finance." So the Senate has just passed this huge $2 trillion stimulus bill. It looks like it will get passed by, by the House and become law very soon. You were in the House in 2008, and then you were in the Senate in 2009 for the TARP bailouts and for the big stimulus bill back then. Can you say to what extent you think this stimulus bill is more of a Main Street bailout than a Wall Street bailout?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So this bill's different. That's for sure. I was there during TARP, and I did not like the way that bill was written. So I voted against it because I didn't think it had enough restrictions on what the companies could do with the money. So in this bill, we did do that. But this is an employee first bill. This is a health care first bill.

It's about meeting the urgent needs. It's, it's almost-- it's an emergency funding bill that's really triage. So money's going straight to the employees who have been laid off or furloughed. Money goes to our hospitals-- about $150 billion straight to hospitals for all the needs they have-- money for small businesses, more money for small businesses than ever before-- something like over $350 billion. And if the small businesses keep their employees, retain them, then they don't have to actually pay back the loans. They become grants. So it's very helpful.

Then money for big businesses too. And the big businesses we have some oversight. We're going to have an IG to investigate issues of fraud. There's a board that decides which investments to make-- excuse me. And that board is bipartisan.

And there is a requirement that they notify, publicize the terms of any loan within 72 hours to make it fully public. So you'll have transparency and accountability, and sunshine is always a good disinfectant. And you have a restriction that for 2 years they can't pay dividends, do stock buybacks, or increase CEO pay. So it's better than nothing. It's not everything I would have wanted, but it's at least the beginning of oversight.

RICK NEWMAN: What else would you have liked to see in there?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So the money that is going is a bit broad, and so there's not a lot of, um, there's not a lot of restrictions on the money. Um, they could still be paying a CEO $10 million a year, and that's outrageous. So there-- I would have preferred some restriction on CEO pay.

RICK NEWMAN: What's your sense of how much this is going to help people who need it right now? I mean, we're seeing horrific numbers in terms of people filing for uninsurance, unemployment insurance claims. And we know the unemployment numbers are just going to be terrible, perhaps unprecedented. Do you think this is going to help enough people right away?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Yes, this is a bill-- I think this week there's 3.3 million people unemployed-- the most people filing for unemployment in the history of America. So it is a very bad week for workers. Within 3 weeks they should be able to get some money. If they earn up to $75,000, they can get a check on average of $1,200. That's per employee.

So if you have two people working and they earn less than $150,000, they can get two $1,200 checks. And for couples earning less than $150,000, they can also get $500 per child that they have. So that's real money in people's pockets when they desperately need it. It's better than nothing, and it's enough to pay for food.

And, and to the extent you don't have a mortgage but you're a renter, it might be enough to pay your rent to keep you in your house. Some cities are going so far as to banning evictions. New York City did that-- said no one can be kicked out of their apartment over the next few months. I think that's smart.

If we could have forbearance for any contracts, that would be a good thing. But we haven't gotten that far yet. But really, you know, it's tough if landlords are evicting, trying to evict people, trying to kick businesses out during the next 3 months, I think it hurts just as much. And so I think forbearance is useful in the market right now, and I'm hopeful that landlords can be kind since Federal mortgages are being frozen. So they don't have to pay their mortgages on the buildings if they own them.

RICK NEWMAN: There's a dire situation in some parts of your home state, New York, New York City in particular where the health care system is now under severe stress. What is your understanding of what's happening in the hospitals in New York City and whether they are-- we're going to get to a situation where the COVID patients actually exceed the capacity of the hospitals to take them and treat them?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Right. So right now our hospitals are preparing, and they're doing a great job. Some of the rural hospitals, some of the public hospitals in New York City are struggling because they don't have enough resources. They don't have enough masks, not enough protective equipment, not enough ventilators, not enough gowns.

So we are urgently getting supplies to those hospitals. We've called upon the Department of Defense to release the masks that they had in reserve-- millions of masks. So far, they've released about a million. We've asked them to release their ventilators. They've released about 2,000.

We're trying to get as many of those to New York as we can. It has to go through HHS and FEMA. So we are just urging support for New York City right now because we are in a deluge. We are really getting hit hard, and so we need more supplies faster than, perhaps, other places in the country that aren't get, getting hit as hard. Um.

RICK NEWMAN: Can't, can't-- I mean, is there more the Federal government can and should do for New York City? I mean, it's not as if, you know, the DOD or Washington has, just has, you know, tons of ventilators at the ready. I mean, we all assume these are in warehouses somewhere, and there are a lot of other municipalities who are placing a claim on some of that equipment. Should the federal government be doing more for New York?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Yes, it will be doing more for New York. This is just a down payment on what the Federal government will ultimately do. It's billions of dollars directly to governors, as well as mayors and counties. And New York is getting quite a lot of money to begin to address those needs. It's definitely not everything they need, and we are going to fight as hard as we can to get more. This bill is the first step, and that's all it was intended to be. And it was intended to go to the most urgent crisis first.

RICK NEWMAN: There's this, there's a bit of a tiff between Governor Cuomo here in New York where I am right now and President Trump changing some, exchanging some barbs. Is that a factor that is, is possibly getting in the way of any Federal aid making it to New York?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: No, I don't think so. I think our governor is doing a great job, and he's just fighting hard for resources because he needs them. And he's being a good governor. He's increasing testing. He's had drive-through testing. He's getting resources to hospitals.

The SUNY System, the State University of New York System-- I talked to the president. She's made dormitories available for overflow, hospital beds. The governor's turning the Javits Center into a thousand bed overflow hospital. He's doing what he needs to do to protect his citizens, and he does need more money.

And we are going to fight as hard as we can to get him that money, and it will take time. But this bill, at least, gets to the hospitals, to employees who are unemployed or furloughed. It gets to the small businesses and the big businesses that otherwise would be going out of business, creating a bigger hole in the governor and mayor's budgets.

RICK NEWMAN: You've heard President Trump and a few mostly conservative political types say we need to get back to thinking about re-opening the economy. And President Trump has suggested maybe Easter, April 12th, is a good time to do that. Does that make sense to you?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: No, I think the President's being foolish, and I think he is being irresponsible.

RICK NEWMAN: Why? Can you explain why?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Because this is a virus that's highly contagious. There are many states that don't have the numbers of New York. But in many of those states, it's largely because they haven't begun testing. This is a virus that spreads everywhere. No one will be without cases in their communities. I suspect there are cases in every community now. We just don't have testing up and running in all states.

So the truth is we need to get testing. We need to triage. We need to get a supply of meds, ICU beds, regular beds, masks, gowns, ventilators in place in all states. This is just beginning. It's going to take a lot longer than the president wants to admit. It will be months, not weeks. And we need to be prepared to serve the country and provide leadership that it needs.

Now, New York and Americans-- we are resilient. We are strong. We will overcome this virus. We will get through this, but it will take sacrifice. It will take determination, and it will take a lot of kindness to our neighbors.

Staying home is the best thing you can do for the vulnerable right now-- stopping the spread. Every transmission you personally stop by not going out, by not touching things, and not touching people, not engaging in the normal social activity you would do-- every decision you make can save a life. And so we're asking all Americans to do what they can to protect the vulnerable.

RICK NEWMAN: You have a colleague in the Senate, Rand Paul, tested positive for COVID-19. How many people do you know who have tested positive?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: So far, certainly Rand and Amy Klobuchar's husband. Those are at least two friends I have in the Senate. In the state of New York, I've heard from a lot of mothers whose son or daughter might have it who are caring for those loved ones right now. I have heard from a lot of, of my senior friends who have a cough, or are worried. They're not sure. They haven't been tested yet.

So I think the exposure is deep. I've also heard from a lot of people who were sick during January and February and had exactly the same symptoms-- had pneumonia, had cough, had a fever, had aches. Those were probably undiagnosed cases as well. So I think we've had this in our communities, Scientists have said, at least since January. And the truth is, we just haven't been testing until just now.

RICK NEWMAN: Last thing-- you recently endorsed Joe Biden for president. What should he be doing right now? Should he sort of lay low since this is a national crisis and just let the president do his thing? Or should he be-- is it OK for him to be criticizing the president and offering a different vision of what he might be doing even though he's not in the White House?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: He's doing exactly what he should be doing. He gave a significant speech just a couple days ago. He is criticizing the president rightly for things he is getting wrong. He's laying out a vision for the country that is strong and bold and understands the trauma of this moment, the challenges that we are facing. And I've never met a man who has overcome more challenges in his life and is a role model for so many of us because he's dedicated his life to serving others.

RICK NEWMAN: I said last question, I lied. That's kind of a journalist's prerogative. I'll try to make this the last one. What is President Trump doing wrong?

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: A lot of things. First of all, he knew from his intelligence community in January that this was a highly contagious virus that would soon be on our shores if it wasn't already. We now know it was already on our shores. And I think as president, he should have started calling hospitals saying, do you have these, these symptoms in patients? I would have gotten the test up and running in January, made it available to every hospital in America.

I would never have limited labs' ability to create their own test and get their own testing methods up and running. I would have never limited national labs' ability to do the research they need to do now to find a cure, a treatment, as well as a vaccine. Making everything go through the CDC was so wrongheaded and really harmed us in our ability to get the defenses up and running that we needed to.

I think he should have implemented the Defense Production Act immediately. I think he should have asked manufacturers to start manufacturing ventilators, masks, gowns, and test kits immediately. He's wasted, squandered 3 months of time that he could have implemented in December if he was visionary and smart, but he wasn't.

And now he's creating misinformation on television, saying that we'll be all better by Easter. And that's going to confuse people. And they will have a sense of safety, and they will not socially distance from their neighbor and friends. They will start going back out. And I tell you, this will just last that much longer.

And the problem with not continuing with social distancing and staying at home is that our health care system, systems will be overwhelmed. We see it in New York what the deluge is doing. The good news is we have great people in New York that are fixing the problem. The fact that our State University of New York is donating dormitories for hospital beds shows that what we can do when asked. The fact that our IT is designing, designing masks, sewing masks and sending them to upstate New York hospitals.

RICK NEWMAN: OK, seriously last--

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: That's--

RICK NEWMAN: Seriously last question.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: --the kind of work the president should be doing.

RICK NEWMAN: That's what I was going to say. So just give me the short list of what you think the president should be doing to address this faster and giving Americans more confidence.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: First of all, he should be working with our manufacturers to create a supply chain. He should be federalizing and nationalizing the supply chain of medical equipment to all hospitals to really send them to the most urgent needs. We should be sending them to the cities and the states that have the highest number of cases and the most need for those supplies.

I'd be urging my manufacturers, and President Trump to be urging all manufacturers in the country to be manufacturing the supplies that we need. He should be creating resources at the NIH to find these solutions, creating an antibodies test so we can complement the current swab test with that so we know who already has immunities, getting those facts and information out immediately. Because if people begin to realize I've already had it, I'm recovered, I have immunities, that will create a sense of calm and that we can defeat this virus. Just exhibiting calm, and leadership, and resolve about what we will do to defeat that virus is what the president should be doing and is not.

RICK NEWMAN: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York, thank you for joining us.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Thank you.