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Mnuchin and Powell Voice Support for Small Business Loans as COVID-19 Relief Negotiations Resume

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell say small business loans and jobless aid should be priorities for Congress
  • Partisan disagreements have stymied efforts for a new round of COVID-19 relief as Congress’s October recess approaches
  • Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resume negotiations as Democrats reportedly prepare new proposal if a compromise is not reached by the end of the week

Asked by members of Congress on Thursday to name their priorities for a new COVID-19 relief bill that might win the favor with both Democrats and Republicans, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell voiced their support for small business loans and further jobless aid.

Powell advised Congress to focus on reviving the Paycheck Protection Program, which expired with $130 billion unspent. Mnuchin said he would also support reallocating $200 billion in Treasury funds to the program. In addition, both officials expressed their support for reviving enhanced unemployment benefits.

House Democrats passed the HEROES Act in May to provide $3.4 trillion in additional COVID-19 relief funds, but Republican leaders in the Senate have rejected it as too costly and far-reaching and not brought it to a vote. Congress has struggled to reach a consensus on further relief during a turbulent election year, with Democrats rejecting pared-down Republican proposals as insufficient and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggesting that relief may be limited to PPP funding and aid to schools. A $1.5 trillion bipartisan measure is also under consideration.

Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have resumed negotiations on the relief bill even as other pressing matters, namely a government funding bill and likely Supreme Court nomination, may crowd out a vote on the matter. In addition, Democrats are reportedly crafting an updated, $2.4 trillion version of the HEROES Act to introduce next week if a consensus with Republican members cannot be reached by the end of this week.

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