‘Is it enough?’: Mnuchin, Powell testify on country’s economic response to COVID-19

D.C. Bureau

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified in a virtual U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday morning, warning that a continued shutdown could lead to permanent economic damage.

“It is so important to begin bringing people back to work in a safe way,” Mnuchin said.

But with some states reopening, he also said he’s optimistic that the country will bounce back.

“We expect economic conditions to improve in the third and fourth quarter and into next year,” he said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, grilled Mnuchin on how relief money is being spent.

“You say the economy is going to recover, it’s going to take jobs in order for that to happen,” she said. “Are you going to require companies that receive money from this half a trillion-dollar slush-fund have to keep people on the payroll?”

“We expect people to use their best efforts to support jobs,” he replied.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said the nation can’t recover if our state and local governments don’t get the support they need.

“It’s been estimated there are 20 million jobs in state and local governments, they contribute 8.5% of national GDP,” Reed said.

Trillions of dollars are being spent to keep the economy moving, but not everyone agrees on whether more relief money will be needed.

“Before we rush out and do another spending bill we should actually let some of this stuff go to work,” Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, said.

Powell said Congress may need to do more to get the country back on track.

“This is the biggest shock we’ve seen in living memory, and the question looms in the air of, ‘Is it enough?’” Powell said.

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