Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin touted continued economic growth as the country recovers from being shut down earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic while warning that new restrictive measures are impeding that progress.
Mnuchin is testifying before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Tuesday to discuss a quarterly report on the CARES Act, which he said has helped curb unemployment, which spiked at the height of the pandemic.
“The historic, bipartisan CARES Act provided the economic relief critical to supporting our robust recovery,” Mnuchin said in prepared remarks. "Additional economic shutdowns, however, continue to impair this remarkable progress and cause great harm to American businesses and workers.”
Mnuchin said his prediction for a strong third quarter came true, as the U.S. saw gross domestic product growth at an annual rate of 33.1%. He recognized that “there is more work to be done” and suggested the best approach would be a limited new relief bill in conjunction with the nearly half a billion dollars remaining that was appropriated for the CARES Act.
“Based on recent economic data, I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response,” he said. “I strongly encourage Congress to use the $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act to pass an additional bill with bipartisan support. The administration is standing ready to support Congress in this effort to help American workers and small businesses that continue to struggle with the impact of COVID-19.”
The scope of the next coronavirus package has been a point of partisan disagreement for months. House Democrats passed their $3 trillion HEROES Act in May then passed a slimmer $2.2 trillion version in October. While the Democrats’ bill includes money for state and local governments, Republicans have been pushing to focus on businesses.
Congress adjourns for the year on Dec. 21, but in remarks on the Senate floor Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., expressed confidence that this is enough time for lawmakers to work through their differences and pass a bill.
“There is no reason – none – why we should not deliver another major pandemic relief package to help the American people through what seems poised to be the last chapters of this battle,” McConnell said.
FOX Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.