US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Friday pledged to quickly send cash to Americans as part of a massive $2.2 trillion relief package aimed at rescuing the coronavirus-battered economy.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the measure later on Friday, once it is approved by the House of Representatives, which provides for payments of $1,200 for Americans making less than $75,000, and $500 for each child, to help support households as the economy faces crushing unemployment and a recession.
“Americans need that money now, they can't wait for government to take three or four or six months like we normally do,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network, adding he expected direct deposits of the cash to arrive in three weeks.
Mnuchin also tried to clarify statements he made on Thursday when he seemed to downplay as “not relevant” government data showing a staggering 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week —by far the highest ever recorded.
“We’re in an unprecedented situation where the government shut down major parts of the economy,” he said in the interview Friday.
“So whether it’s unemployment claims, or other numbers, this doesn't reflect the normal economy.”
The COVID-19 outbreak in the US has grown into the world's largest, and is accelerating, pushing cities nationwide to shut down businesses and employers to lay off workers as people stay indoors.
Economists are projecting a severe US recession, with a double-digit contraction and double-digit unemployment as soon as April–far surpassing the worst of the global financial crisis in 2008.
Coronavirus: US to take stakes in airlines in exchange for aid