Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Says A Deal On The Coronavirus Response Is 'Very Close'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke about a possible coronavirus response deal on Friday morning. According to USA Today, Mnuchin said a deal with Congress was very close to being in place.

"We're very close to getting it done," he said.

Mnuchin, who has been a lead negotiator for the White House, has reportedly been speaking very closely with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi throughout Thursday. The deal -- which would ensure free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave, and an increase in unemployment insurance coverage -- will be proposed on the House floor on Friday.

Additionally, CNBC reports that Mnuchin has considered suspending student loan payments to help avoid any economic consequences of the coronavirus.

"I can tell you that's on our list of 50 different items we're bringing to the president for a decision," Mnuchin said, as a response to being asked about the option to suspend loan payments for up to three months. He added that President Trump is all about "action" and seemed hopeful that after a deal is agreed upon, the administration would then discuss an economic stimulus package with Congress.

"We will get through this and the economy will be stronger than ever when we get through this. By the end of the year, we're going to have a big rebound in economic activity."
Mnuchin isn't the only one who has proposed the idea of suspending student loan debt. Sen. Chuck Schumer sent a letter to President Trump -- which was signed by 30 of his fellow Democratic senators -- requesting six months of student loan forgiveness.

Steven Mnuchin at White House
Getty Images | Mark Wilson

However, Mnuchin's optimism about the ability to reach a deal with Pelosi comes as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Pelosi's proposal an "ideological wish list." According to Politico, McConnell said that that Senate was willing to consider a deal if the White House and Pelosi could agree on the terms, but said that he's worried that "left-wing political messaging" may have taken precedence over what the country actually needs. However, the Kentucky congressman canceled next week's intended recess to continue to work on mitigating the outbreak. If the House passes a bill on Friday, it could be approved by the Senate and on President Trump's desk shortly thereafter.

"I hope Congress can pass bipartisan legislation to continue combating the coronavirus and keep our economy strong," McConnell tweeted, per Politico.

Both parties have acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus outbreak, which the World Health Organization recently classified as a pandemic. Mnuchin echoed messaging by health officials, saying that Americans need to understand the number of cases will increase before decreasing.