- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on Monday said economic numbers in the U.S. should improve heading into the summer and that it’s time for Congress to take a breath on legislating after lawmakers approved roughly $3 trillion of rescue funding in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“If the numbers are worse next month, we understand that, but I think the numbers are going to be getting better as we go into the summer and we reopen the economy, and that’s the important issue here,” Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC.

Mr. Mnuchin had said on Sunday that key metrics such as the unemployment rate were probably going to get worse before they get better but that the U.S. is poised to have a better third quarter, which starts in July.

The Labor Department reported Friday that the April unemployment rate was 14.7% — the worst since the Great Depression.

Mr. Mnuchin said Congress moved quickly on passing roughly $3 trillion in economic rescue legislation designed to prop up a largely shuttered economy that’s been severely damaged by the virus.

“Now what the president has said is, let’s step back for a few weeks, let’s be very considerate in what we do in the next round before we go consider spending another trillion dollars or more of taxpayer money,” he said. “But the president is determined: We’ll do whatever we need to do.”

House Democrats are set to push forward with their own next round of COVID-19 rescue legislation this week.

But Senate Republicans have said liability protections for reopening businesses need to be part of the conversation — an idea top Democrats have rejected.

As Democrats push for more direct funding for states and localities, Mr. Mnuchin also said the federal government isn’t going to be bailing out states’ fiscal woes that might have predated the virus.

“We are not bailing out state pensions and other things,” he said. “I think it’s very clear there is not going to be bipartisan support that bails out states from previous problems.”

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