The White House is seeking what President Donald Trump called “a big and bold” coronavirus relief plan, said to be worth at least $850 billion.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, March 17, Trump said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was working with the Senate and the House on a “big and bold package” to provide relief from the economic fallout of the pandemic. SARS-CoV-2, the virus, started in China last year before spreading around the world. It has caused major disruptions, leading businesses to shutter and sparking fears of an imminent recession.
“Its going to be big, its going to be bold, and the level of enthusiasm to get something done—I dont think Ive ever seen anything quite like it,” Trump said.
Asked about whether the White House stimulus package would stress spending over tax relief, Mnuchin said that while the administration favors tax relief in principle, the urgency of the situation demands quick action that will put cash into the hands of individuals and businesses amid virus-related shutdowns.
Mnuchin said, “a payroll tax holiday would get people money over the next six to eight months, and were looking to send checks to Americans immediately.”
“And what weve heard from hard-working Americans, many companies have now shut down, whether its bars or restaurants, Americans need cash now, and the president wants to get cash now—and I mean now, in the next two weeks,” Mnuchin added.
“Were looking at getting people money as quickly as possible,” Trump added. “Well have a pretty good idea by the end of the day what were going to be doing.”
Mnuchin planned to outline the roughly $850 billion package to Senate Republicans at a private lunch, with officials aiming to have Congress approve it this week,” The Associated Press reported. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, opening the Senate on Tuesday morning, promised swift action.
“The Senate will not adjourn until we have passed significant and bold new steps above and beyond what the House has passed to help our strong nation and our strong underlying economy weather this storm,” McConnell said.
The package Mnuchin is pitching to Senate Republicans on Tuesday includes payments to small businesses, loan guarantees for airlines and hotels, and business interruption payments for workers.
“Well be looking for support for small- and medium-sized businesses. Well be looking for support for certain industries that weve talked about that are particularly hard hit. Ive talked about airlines, hotels, others. And we will be looking at a general stimulus,” Mnuchin told reporters Monday evening, The Hill reported.
Mnuchin was asked by a reporter at the March 17 briefing to specify how much the stimulus package was worth.
He declined to provide specifics, saying only that “I will be previewing that with the Republicans, there are some numbers out there, they may be a bit bigger than whats in the press.”
Multiple reports earlier in the day cited anonymous officials familiar with the matter, who claimed that figure was $850 billion.