FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday the cost of the stimulus bill responding to the coronavirus crisis will likely be “significant but not huge.”
Mnuchin told “Fox News Sunday” he expected to have a better idea of the legislation’s price tag this week.
“It’s hard to model some of these things because you don’t know how many workers are going to be home. I want to be careful about throwing out numbers,” he said. “I think based upon the numbers that we’re going to see, it’s going to have costs that are significant, but not huge.”
He said it was necessary to get relief for the economy and that the government is focused on helping businesses that need liquidity.
“This focuses on employers that are 500 and less people,” Mnuchin said. “That’s a portion of the economy, but it’s the economy that is going to be hit the hardest.
“The important issue is, whatever we need, we are going to get from Congress.”
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a coronavirus aid package early on Saturday that would provide free testing and paid sick leave, in a bid to limit the economic damage from a pandemic that has shuttered schools, sports arenas and offices.
Mnuchin said he has heard from some small business groups that have concerns, but he is talking with senators and believes there is bipartisan support for the bill in the Senate.
He said the government would focus on shoring up the airline, hotel and cruise ship industries. American Airlines Inc said Saturday it plans to cut 75% of its international flights through May 6 and ground nearly all its widebody fleet, as airlines respond to the global collapse in travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Reporting by David Lawder and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Nick Zieminski