Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he supports another round of direct payments to individuals as part of the next CCP virus legislation and is working to get it passed by Congress by the end of this month.
“We do support another round of economic impact payments,” Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday. “As soon as the Senate gets back, we’re going to sit down on a bipartisan basis with the Republicans and the Democrats and it will be our priority that between the 20th and the end of the month, we’re going to pass the next legislation.”
The Senate is slated to return back from its Independence Day recess on July 20, while the extra $600 per week unemployment insurance is scheduled to finish at the end of the month.
Both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) have warmed to the idea of sending out more direct payments or checks in recent days, with McConnell perhaps offering the most explicit requirements for who should receive them.
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less, many of them work in the hospitality industry,” McConnell told reporters this week. “The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked—hotels, restaurants—and so that could well be a part of it.”
Mnuchin added on Thursday that he had a “very productive call” with McConnell. However, he didn’t offer further details.
“I’m not going to go into the specific details,” the secretary said. “The level and the criteria, we’ll be discussing with the Senate.”
Senior economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late last month that the next wave of checks and payments should be distributed to out-of-work Americans.
“Probably, we would want to target those to those folks who lost their jobs and are most in need. All right, that’s the speculation on my part, but I think … that’s where it’s going,” Kudlow said in a Fox Business interview at the time.
President Donald Trump last week weighed in on the potential size of the stimulus payments, saying that they would be larger than what Democratic lawmakers proposed. He was possibly referring to the House Democrat-passed HEROES Act, which would authorize payments of up to $1,200 for both eligible adults and children, capping at around $6,000 for a family of five. The CARES Act, signed into law in March, sent out checks of up to $1,200 to eligible people and $500 to children.
Regarding the future of the $660 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Mnuchin said any extension of the program for more funding “is going to be much more targeted to the businesses that really need this money and the smaller businesses.” Previously, he said the travel, hospitality, and restaurant sectors would likely need more aid as they struggle to reopen.
Treasury plans to review all PPP loans of $2 million or more to determine whether they should be forgiven, but Mnuchin said, “the vast majority” of these loans would meet the test for forgiveness.
The stimulus legislation is being considered to offset economic losses suffered during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) pandemic. More than 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance over the past several months.
Any extension of enhanced unemployment benefits would be capped at 100 percent or less of workers’ pay at the jobs from which they were laid off, giving people incentives to return to work, Mnuchin said.
Reuters contributed to this report.