March 22 (UPI) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that he hopes Congress will approve a nearly $2 trillion stimulus bill aimed at helping Americans deal with the coronavirus by Monday.
Mnuchin is set to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss the bill introduced by Republicans on Thursday.
“I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today,” he told Fox News Sunday.
Pelosi on Sunday, however, signaled that the House may not approve the bill, which Democrats have previously criticized as pro-business instead of pro-worker.
“From my standpoint, we’re apart,” she said, when asked about a potential deal on Sunday.
He added that the bill was designed to stimulate the economy over a 10-12 week period.
“We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy,” he said. “I think the president has every expectation that this is going to look a lot better four or eight weeks from now.”
Mnuchin said the first part of the bill includes what he called “small business retention loans” as many businesses closed while the federal government has suggested people remain home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and some states have ordered mandatory closures.
“If you’re a small business, you’ll get two weeks of cash flow to pay your workers. You’ll also get some overhead and if you do that, your loans will be forgiven,” he said.
The bill would also provide direct deposits which Mnuchin said would see an average family receive about $3,000, along with enhanced unemployment insurance for people who have been laid off as a result of the outbreak.
Schumer described the plan for workers as “unemployment insurance on steroids” in an interview with CNN.
“It will cover all workers. It will cover part-time workers, it will cover workers who are independent workers, it will cover the freelancers and you will be able to stay on this for four months,” he said. “And when the end of it occurs since you’ll be getting your pay but you’ll be furloughed by the employer you can go back to work.”
Lastly, Mnuchin said the bill includes a “significant package” developed in conjunction with the Federal Reserve to infuse money into the economy.
“We’ll have up to $4 trillion to support liquidity that we can use to support the economy,” he said.