U.S. treasury secretary expects Senate to pass next COVID-19 relief bill by end of July

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WASHINGTON, July 9 (Xinhua) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the Trump administration will work with the Senate to pass the next COVID-19 relief bill by the end of July.

“I had a very productive call with (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell yesterday,” Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC.

“As soon as the Senate gets back, we’re going to sit down on a bipartisan basis with the Republicans and the Democrats, and it will be our priority to make sure between the 20th and the end of the month that we pass the next legislation,” he said.

Mnuchin also said the administration supports a second round of economic impact payments to households, an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits for furloughed workers and a much more targeted Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

U.S. lawmakers are expected to begin formally negotiating a fifth COVID-19 relief bill once they return to Washington from a two-week break on July 20, according to local media.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, on Monday voiced confidence that a fifth bill would be necessary and that he would introduce legislation in a few weeks.

“If you’re looking for what I think the theme of what a next package that I’m likely to roll out here in a few weeks would focus on: liability reform, kids in school, jobs and health care, that’s where the focus, it seems to me, ought to be,” McConnell said.

U.S. Congress has provided roughly 2.9 trillion U.S. dollars in fiscal support for households, businesses, healthcare providers, and state and local governments, to blunt the economic impact resulted from the pandemic.

But the resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country is threatening to derail the nascent economic recovery as many states have either paused or partially reversed their staged reopening plans.

The House of Representatives in May passed a new 3-trillion-dollar coronavirus relief package, but it was proposed by Democrats and was not likely to gain approval from the Republican-held Senate. Enditem

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