- “There is a strong likelihood we will need another bill” to keep the economy afloat through the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The Hill on Thursday.
- Mnuchin’s comments arrive as House Democrats’ $US3 trillion relief package sits stuck in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to consider the legislation.
- Senate Republicans have balked at extending a $US600-per-week expansion to unemployment insurance, and President Trump has indicated the government should monitor how current aid measures play out before issuing new relief.
- Mnuchin expects second-quarter figures to be “dreadful” before the economy recovers in the second half of 2020.
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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that another coronavirus relief bill from Congress is likely needed to keep the economy intact before a nationwide reopening.
The House passed a $US3 trillion relief measure last week, but the bill has since been stuck in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to push it forward. President Donald Trump has indicated he would rather mull the effects of already issued aid from the Federal Reserve and Congress before pushing for a new package.
Mnuchin said the White House was weighing the need for another stimulus measure and where such funds should be put to use.
“I think there is a strong likelihood we will need another bill, but we just have $US3 trillion we’re pumping into the economy,” Mnuchin said in a video interview with The Hill. “We’re going to step back for a few weeks and think very clearly how we need to spend more money and if we need to do that.”
The comments follow similar remarks from Fed officials in recent weeks. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on May 13 that “additional fiscal relief could be costly but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage.” Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan echoed the sentiments on Wednesday, telling CNBC that more easing from the central bank and Congress is likely necessary to bolster the ailing economy.
One pain point in Senate negotiations is a second bill’s language around unemployment insurance. House Democrats want to expand a $US600-per-month provision to the program with its latest act. McConnell on Wednesday indicated such a measure would not pass, saying the “crazy policy” would incentivise some workers to remain unemployed.
Mnuchin called the House Democrats’ measure a “partisan bill,” adding that “we need to fix the quirk” of unemployment insurance paying Americans more to stay out of work.
Though the Treasury secretary said it was “too premature” to make any projections for when the economy may turn around, he expects “dreadful” second-quarter figures before a rebound through the second half of the year.
“As the president has said and I have said, with the great advancement in medical progress and killing this virus, we expect our economy will be great again next year,” Mnuchin said.
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