A $1 trillion aid package would be larger than the US response to the 2008
financial crisis, amounting to nearly a quarter of what the federal government
spent last year.
In addition to the $250 billion in cheques for families, the plan includes a
bailout for airlines and hotels, among other measures. The proposal must be
approved by Congress to move forward.
Separate from the $1 trillion package, Steve Mnuchin said the government
would also allow companies and individuals to delay their tax payments for 90
He said: “We look forward to
having bipartisan support to pass this legislation very quickly.”
President Donald Trump initially proposed a payroll tax cut, which would
reduce the money the government automatically withholds from worker pay to pay
for social programs.
However, critics said that relief would come too slowly and leave out those
without jobs. Several high-profile economists had urged more direct assistance,
including $1,000 payments, winning support from lawmakers such as Republican
Senator Mitt Romney.
President Trump said he had come round to the view that faster, more direct
relief is necessary.
He said: “With this invisible
enemy, we don’t want people losing their jobs and not having money to live.”
The president added that he wanted to target the relief to those who need
Steven Mnuchin said he hoped to send the cheques within two weeks.
He said: “Americans need cash now and the president wants to give cash now and I mean now, in the next two weeks.”
Democrats have boycotted a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee in which Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary, and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President Trump’s nominee for health and human services secretary, would have likely been approved for consideration by the full Senate.
They said they wanted more information about the financial activities of health nominee Tom Price and treasury pick Steven Mnuchin.
A vote on attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions was also postponed.
On January 30, the acting attorney general was sacked for questioning the legality of Donald Trump’s immigration order.
It imposes a temporary travel ban on seven mainly-Muslim countries.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had been appointed by President Barack Obama.
Finance Committee Democrats told reporters outside the hearing that they were seeking more information about Tom Price’s trading in health company stock.
The Georgia Congressman has been nominated for the post of health and human services secretary in the new administration.
The senators said they were also concerned by reports of financier Steven Mnuchin’s behavior involving foreclosures at his former bank OneWest.
However, Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican committee chair, described the Democrats’ behavior as “posturing and acting like idiots”, AP reported.
A battle also raged in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Jeff Sessions came under heavy criticism.
An early Donald Trump backer, Senator Jeff Sessions has faced racism allegations which overshadowed his confirmation hearings.
Committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley began January 31 meeting by saying that neither Jeff Sessions nor any of his current staff, “had a role in formulating or drafting the executive orders” – including the controversial travel ban.
Several Democratic Senators spoke in the committee meeting to say that they intended to vote against the 69-year-old Alabama senator.
Senator Diane Feinstein criticized his role in Donald Trump’s election campaign and his closeness to the new president during it.
“It is very difficult to reconcile for me the independence and objectivity necessary for the position of attorney general with the partisanship this nominee has demonstrated,” she said.
The Democrats’ lengthy speeches extended the hearing into the afternoon, eventually forcing Sen. Chuck Grassley to postpone the vote until February 1.
If Jeff Sessions’ nomination is approved by the judiciary committee, the full Senate – where Republicans hold a 52-48 majority – is expected to vote on it by the end of the week.
The Alabama senator faced two days of tough questioning during his confirmation hearings this month.
One of the most conservative members of the Senate, Jeff Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after the judiciary committee heard testimony about his remarks on race.
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