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Treasury secretary projects optimism on stimulus bill for coronavirus relief

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Posted at 9:35 AM, Mar 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 11:36:17-04

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that lawmakers have a "fundamental understanding" that a deal has been reached to pass a massive stimulus bill to a staggering economy reeling from the coronavirus as soon as Monday.

"I do think it will get done. We've been working around the clock in the Senate with Republicans and Democrats. I've been speaking to (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell, (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer, the (House) Speaker and I think we have a fundamental understanding and we look forward to wrapping it up today," said Mnuchin, in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

Mnuchin explained that the bill, which could cost trillions, has several components: small business retention loans, which will give small business two weeks of cash flow to retain their employees and keep up with overhead; direct deposits, which would be approximately $3,000 for the average family of four; enhanced unemployment insurance, which was a sticking point in the talks; and a "significant package" of $4 trillion in liquidity, working with the Fed, to support the economy and broad-based lending programs.

Mnuchin said the bill is structured based on a 10-to-12 week scenario, and that if in 10 weeks coronavirus is still ravaging the country, the administration would return to Congress to ask for more.

Bipartisan groups of senators worked late into Friday night with top officials from President Donald Trump's administration to lock in a final agreement -- a deal that people directly involved in the negotiations tell CNN could top a cost of $1.5 trillion -- before falling short of a midnight deadline imposed by McConnell.

Larry Kudlow, a top economic adviser to Trump, went even further in estimating the overall scope of the package Saturday, telling reporters it could top $2 trillion.

"The package is coming in about 10% of GDP, it's a very large package," Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said. Ten percent of gross domestic product is roughly $2 trillion.

Kudlow later explained that he was referring to the total programmatic scope of the emergency actions the administration plans to utilize, between the stimulus legislative package and funds that could be used to capitalize Federal Reserve emergency lending facility that would support hundreds of billions in loans..