Overnight Finance

On The Money: White House mulling additional stimulus checks | House delay raises questions about coronavirus relief | Small business program may be near exhaustion

Happy Tuesday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Adviser says White House is considering additional stimulus checks: 

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said Tuesday that officials are analyzing the need for more stimulus checks to blunt the economic damage of the coronavirus, suggesting they could be part of a future relief package.

“I think that’s something that we are studying very carefully, that I know that people in the House are as well,” Hassett told reporters at the White House.

  • Hassett was responding to a question about whether he believed the one-time $1,200 stimulus payments sent to many Americans — which were authorized as part of a third relief package signed by President Trump at the end of March — would be enough to help those adversely affected by business closures.
  • Hassett characterized a future relief package as likely and suggested it was possible another round of stimulus payments could be part of such a package.

“I expect it is very likely there will be a phase four deal and we’re going to be speaking with the president throughout the week about what he thinks should be in there,” Hassett said. 

The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant has more here. 

Trump’s vision for another coronavirus relief package: Trump said in early April that he was weighing a second round of relief checks, telling reporters at a news conference it was “absolutely under serious consideration.”

  • Trump last week signed a $484 billion bill to replenish a small business lending program and provide financial support for hospitals and testing efforts. The legislation set the stage for negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House on a next relief package.
  • Trump also said last week that he envisioned a future package including money for state and local governments, infrastructure funding, tax incentives for businesses purchasing meals and entertainment, and a payroll tax holiday.

McConnell pumps brakes on infrastructure in COVID bill: While infrastructure spending is a high priority for Trump and House Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that infrastructure will not be part of Congress’s next coronavirus relief package.

“We have an equal interest in doing an infrastructure bill. We don’t have an equal interest in borrowing money from future generations to pay for it. In other words, it’s unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic,” McConnell told Fox News on Tuesday.

“Infrastructure is unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic that we’re all experiencing and trying to figure out how to go forward.” 

House delays return, raising questions about future of coronavirus relief: House leaders on Tuesday reversed course on plans to bring the chamber back into session next week amid fears about whether it is safe to return to the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the change in plans after initially saying the day before that the House would return the following Monday, citing discussions with the Capitol physician, who warned that the Washington region has not yet flattened its number of coronavirus cases.

  • Hoyer said that House leaders will instead wait to call members back to Washington when the next round of coronavirus relief legislation is ready for a vote.
  • Hoyer acknowledged that it would be more “dangerous” for lawmakers to stay in Washington for extended amounts of time, like they typically do, than it is for members to be in the Capitol for a short period of time.

Even so, the Senate is still planning to reconvene in May. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday that the upper chamber would reconvene the next Monday and “modify routines in ways that are smart and safe, and a McConnell spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that plans for the Senate had not changed.

LEADING THE DAY

Replenished small business program could be exhausted by next week: The second round of a popular small business loan program is on track to run out of funds by next week.

The Payment Protection Program, which offers businesses forgivable loans if they devote most of the cash to keeping workers on payroll, approved over $52 billion in funds by 1 p.m. on Tuesday, just over a day after it reopened with newly appropriated funds from Congress, according to the Small Business Administration.

At that rate, the $310 billion in new funding enacted by President Trump on Friday would be exhausted within seven business days. The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.

Mnuchin: Small business coronavirus loans above $2M will be audited: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that the Trump administration will audit every company that receives an emergency coronavirus loan from the SBA greater than $2 million.

  • “This was a program designed for small businesses. It was not a program that was designed for public companies that had liquidity,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.
  • While the program is intended to help struggling businesses with fewer than 500 employees retain their workers through the pandemic, several large companies with ample financial options were able to obtain loans.
  • The Treasury Department warned last week that large, publicly traded firms could not likely say in “good faith” that they qualify for the program.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Only 14.2 percent of the 12 million people who filed new unemployment claims in March had received their funds that month, according to an analysis by The Century Foundation, a left-leaning think tank.
  • A federal court has blocked the Trump administration from giving stimulus funds to corporations owned by Alaska Natives, largely siding with tribes who argue the funds were intended for governments assisting with the pandemic.
  • The Senate Banking Committee is expected to mark up Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Federal Reserve next Tuesday, a signal she is expected to pass the panel along with Christopher Waller, another Fed nominee.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are set to introduce legislation that would put a moratorium on mergers involving large companies during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday that people who have received coronavirus relief payments for their deceased relatives should return that money to the federal government.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Simon Property Group (SPG) said it would reopen dozens of malls across the country next weekend as states begin to allow some commerce to resume during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Op-Ed: Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, argues why “now is the time” to strengthen those programs
Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Mitch McConnell Steny Hoyer Steven Mnuchin

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