WASHINTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) used his time during yesterday’s Senate Banking Committee hearing to focus on safely reopening the economy and encourage his fellow lawmakers to understand the consequences of the four emergency funding bills Congress has passed thus far to respond to COVID-19.
The hearing was the first CARES Act report to Congress from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. You can watch Senator Toomey’s remarks and questions during the hearing here.
On shutting down, and reopening, the economy, Senator Toomey said:
“I think it’s worth remembering why we shut down the economy in the first place. It was a very specific reason, and that was to prevent the virus from spreading so rapidly that so many people would get sick so quickly that we would overwhelm our hospitals. Well, it’s been clear for weeks now that we’re not going to overwhelm our hospitals – certainly not in Pennsylvania – and I know not in most of the country. And so, I think it’s essential that we begin the process of carefully, thoughtfully, and safely reopening the economy.”
On additional spending, Senator Toomey said:
“That’s [$6 trillion] like 30 percent of our entire annual economic output, and, in fact, more than half of it has not yet been spent or lent. So, I think you can make a pretty strong case that before we rush out and do another spending bill, we actually let some of this stuff go to work and understand the consequences of what we’ve already done.”
When asked by Senator Toomey if an extended shutdown of the economy risks permanent job loss, Secretary Mnuchin said:
“That’s absolutely the case, Mr. Senator. There is the risk of permanent damage. And as I’ve said before, we’re conscious of the health issues and we want to do this in a balanced and safe way.”
During the hearing, Chairman Powell told Senator Toomey that he expects all of the Federal Reserve’s newly-authorized lending facilities to be operational by the end of this month.
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