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Mnuchin: First coronavirus rebates to be issued 'within two weeks'

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE said Thursday that the first coronavirus relief payments to Americans will be sent "within two weeks."

"I previously said this would take us three weeks," Mnuchin said at a White House press briefing. "I'm pleased to report that within two weeks, the first payments will be direct deposit[ed] into taxpayers' accounts."

Under the coronavirus relief package that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE signed last week, most Americans will receive direct payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child.

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Mnuchin's comments come after the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee prepared a document that said the IRS would likely start making payments via direct deposit the week of April 13.

But the document, which was based on committee staff's conversations with the IRS and Treasury, also said that the IRS was expected to start issuing paper checks in early May and that it could take up 20 weeks for all the paper checks to get out.

Mnuchin pushed back when asked about the lengthy timetable during the briefing.

"I don’t know where you’re hearing these things," he said. "I told you this would be three weeks, I’m now committing to two weeks. We’re delivering on our commitments. The IRS, which I oversee — within two weeks, the first money will be in people’s accounts."

Mnuchin also said that "when Obama sent out these checks it took months and months and months."

According to an analysis from the right-leaning Tax Foundation, one-time payments included in President Obama's February 2009 stimulus law were issued in May 2009. The rebate checks in that law went to a smaller number of people than are eligible for rebates in Trump's law.

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Mnuchin also reiterated that the IRS is working on creating an online portal so that people who have not already provided direct deposit information to the agency can do so to get their payments faster.

He said that the IRS would send people their payments "within a couple of days" of them providing the information, and that Treasury is working with prepaid debit card companies to ensure that people receive their payments "quickly" — in "weeks, and not months."

"This money does people no good if it shows up in four months," he said.

A Treasury official said Thursday that the department expects 50 million to 70 million people to receive the payments via direct deposit by April 15, and that most eligible Americans will get their payments in the next three weeks. The person said the paper checks would be sent first to the lowest-income people.

The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing an internal IRS document, that the agency plans to start sending payments electronically as soon as next week, that paper checks would start to be sent out on April 24 and that some checks wouldn't be sent out until September.

People who wouldn't receive their checks until September include the highest-income individuals eligible for the rebates and those who had to submit information to the IRS because the agency didn't previously have their information, the Post reported.

Updated at 7:25 p.m.