Former Treasury secretaries from both parties call for immediate COVID-19 relief deal

Treasury secretaries who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations are calling on Congress to urgently pass a COVID-19 relief bill.

“Our nation’s leaders should act on another round of fiscal relief now,” the former officials wrote in a letter organized by the Aspen Institute's Economic Strategy Group and signed by a bipartisan group of dozens of economists.

“Our country and economy cannot wait until 2021,” they added in Thursday's letter.


Signatories included former Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson, who served during the George W. Bush administration, Timothy Geithner, who served under former President Obama, and Larry Summers, who served during the Clinton administration.

Others who signed the letter included Republicans like former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, and Democrats like Obama economic advisers Jason FurmanJason FurmanGOP seeks to make Biden synonymous with inflation Facebook antitrust victory poses big test for new FTC chief Biden administration eyeing long-term increase in food stamps: report MORE and Austan Gooldsbee.

Congressional efforts to agree on a new COVID-19 relief bill have been stalled for months. Republican leaders have been pushing for a $500 billion package, while Democrats want a much larger bill, north of $2 trillion.

The letter said the bill's first priority should be to fund public health efforts to fight the coronavirus. But the economists also pointed to enhanced unemployment benefits, food security programs and protections for people facing evictions. They also endorsed aid to state and local governments, which are facing significant budget shortfalls, and financial support for small businesses.

A slew of relief programs included in the CARES Act from March are set to expire Dec. 31, setting the stage for a “COVID cliff.”

Economists are increasingly concerned about the possibility of a “double dip recession,” in which the economic recovery would falter and revert back into a recession.