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Mnuchin says a significant new aid package is still needed to recover the economy from coronavirus

“While we continue to see signs of a strong economic recovery, we recognize that there is more work to be done and certain areas of the economy require additional relief,” Mnuchin said in his opening address. “I believe a bipartisan agreement is yet to be reached and would allocate significant resources” to areas such as schools, tests, vaccines, small businesses, improved unemployment benefits and the US Postal Service. President Trump said Tuesday that the struggling aviation industry would also need more support.

Clyburn accused Mnuchin of failing to reach an agreement with Democrats months after a sweeping $ 3.4 trillion bill was passed in May, known as the Heroes Act.

“Additional economic stimulus is urgently needed … as the pandemic drags on, states, cities and businesses are warning of further layoffs,”

; Clyburn said. “Secretary Mnuchin, I hope you return to the negotiating table to find the common cause.”

Mnuchin was involved in talks last month with Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to create a new economic aid package. But those talks broke down amid the partisan rancor, and Trump went on alone with executive action aimed at providing some relief in areas like unemployment benefits.

These executive actions had limited impact, but Meadows reiterated in a television interview Tuesday that further such unilateral steps were being considered.

Efforts to resume talks have failed. Pelosi and Meadows spoke last week, and Pelosi said the Democrats would approve a $ 2.2 trillion package. But that number is still too high for Republicans.

“I’m not supporting $ 2.2 trillion,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. “But more importantly, the allocation of money to American workers, American families, children … there are enormous areas of agreement, and we should do that right now.”

“I don’t think the correct result is zero. Nobody believes the correct result is zero, ”said Mnuchin.

Rep Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Asked Mnuchin if he would commit to calling Pelosi Tuesday to resume talks.

“Can I tell her that you suggested calling her right after the hearing?” Asked Mnuchin.

“Yes, yes, yes,” said Waters.

“Done, I’ll call you right after the hearing,” Mnuchin said.

The Treasury Secretary reached out to the House Speaker after the hearing, according to someone familiar with the call, who asked for anonymity to discuss private communications. However, it was unclear whether they were actually linked, and there was no public evidence of movement in the negotiations.

The government has pushed the Democrats to agree to a stripped-down package that addresses common ground, but the Democrats have refused to abandon their goal of a comprehensive package.

Senate Republicans have been working to agree on what is known as a “thin” or “targeted” package, priced below $ 1 trillion, that they may try to move forward in the Senate as early as next week. Democrats would likely block this, but Republicans have tried to focus on what they see as the Democrats’ unreasonable refusal to compromise in the talks. The Senate GOP incumbents in close races are also keen to be able to vote on some additional restoration measures.

Around 27 million Americans receive some form of unemployment benefit. On Thursday, the Department of Labor said that an additional 1 million Americans had filed for unemployment the week before.

The stock market has risen sharply, and the economy has regained a little less than half the jobs originally lost during the March and April pandemic. Trump has been bullish about the economic recovery, focusing on things like the stock market as he and several other White House advisers insist that the economy is prepared for a strong “V-shaped” recovery.

However, Democrats and some liberal economists have raised concerns about a “K-shaped” recovery, where the economically favored bounce back while people on the lower income levels do badly.

Rep. Andy Kim (DN.J.) asked Mnuchin if he would agree that the economy was prepared for a strong “V-shaped” recovery.

“I think we are about to have a very strong rebound, but let me just say there are a lot of companies, a lot of industries that have been destroyed, and so I urge Congress, the House and the Senate to move forward and let us go Especially help the hardest hit companies, ”said Mnuchin.

“Let’s not get lost on different letters of the alphabet, but rather move forward in non-partisan ways in areas on which we can agree,” he said.

Some House Democrats, who find themselves in tough re-election races, are also concerned about the inaction of additional coronavirus aid amid $ 3 trillion in stimulus, increased unemployment benefits and other programs that Congress agrees on in March and April has to expire. While Pelosi has advocated a comprehensive package, some in their caucus have listened openly to Mnuchin’s incremental approach.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Kim, a new Democrat running for re-election in a competitive race, told Mnuchin that it was “a great feeling” to move forward in areas of agreement – despite highlighting some Democratic priorities like Republican health insurance aid not hugging.

Prior to the hearing, the Democrats in the subcommittee released a report highlighting the potential for significant waste at the March-launched Congress of the Paycheck Protection Program for Small Businesses. The program distributed $ 530 billion to small businesses to help keep their employees on payroll. The report found that more than $ 1 billion went to companies that may not have received multiple loans properly, nearly $ 100 million to companies banned from doing business with the government, and nearly $ 200 million -Dollars to companies that were found by employees to have been previously flagged by the federal government for performance or integrity issues.

The amount of potential waste identified in the report is still a small part of the overall program, and Treasury and Small Business Administration officials have pledged to review more than $ 2 million in loans. However, the staff behind the report said the loans under review were less than 1 percent of the total and wrote that “the administration appears to lack the proper oversight mechanisms to identify and eradicate these issues.”

Mnuchin denied this claim in his testimony on Tuesday, and the Republicans on the subcommittee issued a rival report commending the government for demonstrating “how the government can work with the private sector to provide quick and efficient aid to those in need by getting an unprecedented volume of credit issued in a short period of time to prevent catastrophic small business job losses.

There is still disagreement about how effective the program was in reducing unemployment. Trump and other government officials still claim the program helped small businesses save or support 50 million jobs – something Trump boasted again during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention – although many experts agreed the number probably far less due to government faulty data collection methods.

A post-analysis of data on 4.9 million published PPP loans shows that many companies have reportedly “kept” far more workers than they employ. In other cases, the SBA’s job entitlement for entire industries exceeds the total number of employees in those sectors.

Jeff Stein contributed to this report.

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