Second round of coronavirus stimulus: Mnuchin fields questions from both sides

Politics

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was back on Capitol Hill Tuesday, answering questions about the pandemic response as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle sought to get insight into the next round of stimulus negotiations.

“We are sensitive to the fact that there is more work to be done. And certain areas of the economy require additional relief,” said Mnuchin. “A bipartisan agreement still should be reached and would provide substantial funds.”

Mnuchin said the White House wants to provide more funding for schools, unemployment, COVID-19 testing, small businesses and more.

Last month he and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said they would support a one trillion dollar package.

While Democrats came down from a $3 trillion package to a $2.2 trillion plan.

“Let’s find a number close to the two numbers we already agree on,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, Republican from Missouri. Blunt says both parties should work together on measures they both consider common goals. He introduced a smaller stimulus bill to do just that.

“The bill I’ve been working on is how do we get people back to school, how do we get people back to work,” said Blunt.

But Democrats say the Republican measures aren’t enough to meet the seriousness of the moment.

“The most important step we can take to fix the economy in the long term is to get the pandemic under control,” said Rep. James Clyburn, Democrat Majority Whip. Clyburn serves as Chairman of the Select Committee on the Coronavirus. During the hearing with Mnuchin, Clyburn said coming up short on stimulus spending will have a devastating long term impact on the economy.

“The administration has refused to agree to the heroes act, or to any meaningful compromise,” said Clyburn.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, Democrat from Maryland says any stimulus package must provide money to state and local governments.

No current Republican plan has money allocated for state and local.  

“State governments are being forced to cannibalize their rainy day funds. They’re cutting essential services,” said Raskin. He says police and fire departments will suffer, and many communities will lose jobs as a result of the economic crisis, if not addressed with stimulus funding from the federal government.

Mnuchin says states should manage with the hundreds of billions they’ve already received in stimulus.

“There are many states hoarding the money because they want to use it for lost revenues… Let’s deal with the issues we have now, and next year we can worry about if more money is needed,” said Mnuchin.

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