On Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the Trump administration’s fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic and told senators he was willing to consider extending and modifying a payroll loan program for small businesses.
During a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the nearly $3 trillion in federal rescue programs rolled out over the past two months were working to support an economy devastated by the novel coronavirus. Both gentlemen faced questions over whether the administration’s plans to quickly reopen the economy in the wake of lockdowns imposed in March and April would leave low-wage workers without adequate protections from the virus.
Congress is considering legislation to free up trillions of dollars of additional aid to further bolster the economy, help states and increase pay for essential workers doing dangerous jobs. Mnuchin warned prolonged lockdowns would pose a “risk of permanent damage” to the economy.
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