Mnuchin: "Congress very close to stimulus bill and must get it done today"

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Monday that Democrats and Republicans are nearly in agreement on a massive congressional stimulus package to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“I think we’re very close. We need to get this deal done today,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “It is very important as you can see, Jim. We announced overnight with the Fed some very important actions supporting the asset-backed market, supporting the corporate bond market — primary and secondary.”

“We’re using some of the funds we have, but we need Congress to approve additional funds today so that we can move forward and support American workers and the American economy,” he added.

Congressional leaders are hashing out the final details of a massive, trillion-dollar-plus stimulus package designed to relieve American workers and businesses that are struggling amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stock futures at first slumped in overnight trading after the fiscal stimulus bill failed a key procedural Senate vote Sunday before bouncing back after the Federal Reserve’s additional easing measures.

The chamber’s Democrats warned the measure did not do enough to help impacted workers and instead offered too much for company bailouts. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had signaled she was not on board with the Republican version of the stimulus plan, saying: “From my standpoint, we’re apart.”

But the tone on Capitol Hill wasn’t totally negative after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said disagreements over the bill could be overcome in the next 24 hours. A spokesman for Schumer later added the senator and Mnuchin had a “productive meeting.”

“We are providing immediate loans to small businesses,” Mnuchin said Monday. “We’re working with the [Small Business Administration]. We’re going to make sure that banks can immediately lend money ... as long as those companies hire back their workers or keep their workers.”

“At the end of that period, we will forgive those loans entirely,” he added. “We want to make sure that small businesses, which represent about 50% of the private economy, keep workers employed. So when the president is ready to open up this economy again and we’ve killed this virus, workers are in place. It’s no fault of theirs: They’re getting paid.”

Senate Republicans last week rolled out a roughly $1 trillion proposal after working closely with the administration in a bid to slow the potentially catastrophic impact of the coronavirus on the economy. As on Monday, more than 35,000 have tested positive for the illness in the United States.

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