Mnuchin, Powell call for support for unemployment relief and small business loans
WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) – The heads of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department returned to Capitol Hill today to brief the Senate on the state of the economy as the pandemic rages on in the United States
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have told senators what their next move should be, but it is up to Congress to act.
“How to take the next step? Asked Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL.
Shelby said the economy is recovering, but 11 million Americans are still unemployed, mostly in the travel, hospitality and entertainment industries.
Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR, highlighted the airline industry, which is short of billions in COVID-19 aid on October 1. Cotton said a flight attendant asked him for help on a recent flight.
“She was afraid she was about to lose her job in early October, and it would be the first time in her life that she would be unemployed,” he said.
Senator Doug Jones, D-AL, asked about a particular demographic on the unemployment line.
“How are these single moms going to put food on the table?” Jones said. “How are they going to pay for the necessities? “
Jones pointed out that nine million Americans, most of whom are low income, have yet to receive their $ 1,200 stimulus checks. He asked Mnuchin to extend the October 15 deadline to register.
Mnuchin said he would look into this, but told Senator John Kennedy, R-LA, that Congress could help now by allowing the Treasury to spend the $ 130 billion of unused paycheck protection program funds on another round of payments to hardest hit companies.
“Would that be your number one priority?” Kennedy asked.
“It would,” Mnuchin said.
Powell told senators that if he were to reallocate some of the money from the CARES Act, it would go to P3 funds and the unemployed, but noted that a healthy economy ultimately comes down to healthy people.
“Is the vaccine the best thing we can get? Cotton asked.
“Yes, in the long run I think that’s what it will take to bring business travel back to where it was,” Powell said.
A coronavirus vaccine in the United States is still on track to be available early next year. Members of the White House coronavirus task force told a Senate committee on Wednesday that they should know by December whether the country’s six vaccine candidates are safe and effective, and have tens of millions of doses ready. to be distributed.