Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin provided some details regarding the federal government’s next coronavirus stimulus package, noting that the starting point for how much money will go into it is $1 trillion dollars.
Speaking alongside President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the Oval Office, Mnuchin said that “the focus is kids and jobs,” and that the goal is to have it in place by the end of this month.
“We’re focused on starting with another trillion dollars, we think that will make a big impact,” Mnuchin said.
In addition to children and jobs, Mnuchin said another focus is developing a vaccine for COVID-19, with the goal of having one ready for emergency use “by the end of the year.”
The Treasury secretary said that lawmakers are aiming to pass the new legislation before the end of July, when the current “enhanced unemployment insurance” expires.
Mnuchin noted that while the new package will continue to provide robust unemployment benefits, it will correct what some see as an issue with the current package: it paid some workers more than what they made on the job so they were not incentivized to return to work. He also said that the new package should include tax credits for employers to incentivize them to bring workers back, as well as money for states for schools that can reopen safely.
Trump was asked how important a payroll tax cut would be for the new legislation, to which he said that while it is just one of 10 different elements that are being discussed for the package, it is "very important" because it would incentivize companies to bring people back to work
Another main theme of the package is protecting small businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.
“We want to make sure that frivolous lawsuits don’t prevent schools, universities, and businesses from reopening,” Mnuchin said. McCarthy agreed, stating that businesses “should not have an attack from any lawsuits” as they try to reopen.
McConnell echoed this as well, saying that liability protection will be a key part of the new legislation, along with school, jobs, and health care.
“We don’t need an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic we’re already struggling with,” he said.