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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin supports passage of a 'targeted' coronavirus relief bill

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House subcommittee on coronavirus crisis on Sept. 1. Credit: POOL/EPA-EFE/NICHOLAS KAMM

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday he supports passage of a "targeted" coronavirus relief bill, but he and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still stalled over the size of a new tranche of federal aid.

He said that while Pelosi is holding out for a larger relief package, they both agreed to pass a "continuing resolution," a temporary funding measure that allows the federal government to operate while a new spending bill is negotiated.

Passage of a continuing resolution is needed to avert a government shutdown ahead of a new fiscal year. Congress and the White House can still negotiate terms of a new federal spending bill under a continuing resolution. That government funding extension is expected to run through the beginning of December, Mnuchin said, though he and Pelosi haven't agreed on a date.

He said he and Pelosi agreed they both "don't want to see a government shutdown, so we've agreed that we are going to do a clean" continuing resolution, negotiated separately from the coronavirus relief bill discussions. "I hope by the end of the week we can go forward with that," he said.

In May, the Democratic-led House approved a $3 trillion coronavirus federal aid package, known as the Heroes Act. But the Republican-led Senate has balked at the proposal and instead, introduced a slimmed-down, $1 trillion plan. Republicans have called for relief to be approved in smaller stages, but Pelosi said she opposes passing relief funding in "piecemeal."

Pelosi, in an interview Sunday on MSNBC, said Republicans have failed to effectively curb the virus by failing to take up the Heroes Act.

"We must crush the virus," she said on "AM Joy."

"Since we passed the Heroes Act, the number of people who have died has doubled because [GOP Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell pressed pause. We're not doing anything. Could we have saved all of those people? Not all, but many.

"We have to make sure the public knows how we can solve this and why the administration is standing in the way of crushing the virus," she said.

Mnuchin on Sunday expressed support for additional stimulus dollars and accused Pelosi of wanting to "spend unlimited amounts of money."

"The president and I believe we should do more stimulus," he said. Referring to stalled talks with Pelosi, Mnuchin said, "where we're really stuck is both on certain policy issues, but more importantly on the top line." He said Pelosi has refused to negotiate unless Republicans agree to a $2.5 trillion deal in advance.

"Let's do a more targeted bill now, if we need to do more in 30 days, we'll continue to do more," he said. "Let's not hold up the American workers and American businesses that need more support," he said.

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