Mnuchin says he has ongoing discussions about the infrastructure

Apr 1, 2020 10:50 PM ET

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC Wednesday he was speaking to Congress about a potential infrastructure law that would help boost the coronavirus-infested economy.

“As you know, the President was very interested in infrastructure. This goes back to the campaign: The President is determined to rebuild the country,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s David Faber. “And it’s very important to him when interest rates are low.”

“We discussed this with the Democrats and the Republicans last year. I’ve had ongoing discussions with Richard Neal about it, and we’ll continue to do so,” he added. Rep. Neal is a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The secretary’s comments came a day after President Donald Trump urged the U.S. to spend $ 2 trillion on a massive infrastructure package. In a tweet, the president wrote that “this is the time” to do a zero-rate infrastructure overhaul during the crisis.

“It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, $ 2 trillion, and focus exclusively on jobs and rebuilding our country’s once-huge infrastructure! Phase 4,” said the president, referring to three parts of the emergency legislation that legislators have already passed has to help American workers deal with the COVID-19 contagion.

Such an infrastructure bill would follow an unprecedented $ 2 trillion aid package that Congress passed last week. This legislation, which came into force on Friday, includes one-off payments to individuals, strengthening unemployment insurance and additional health care to reduce the toll the virus takes on the economy.

Trump has long been a fan of modernizing American roads, bridges, and airports, and during his 2016 campaign stated that he would make infrastructure reform a priority during his tenure.

“The only one who repairs our country’s infrastructure is me – roads, airports, bridges,” Trump tweeted on May 12, 2015. “I know how to build.” [politicians] only knows how to speak! “

So far, efforts to overhaul the infrastructure have failed.

Talks ended in 2019 after Trump stormed out of a meeting with democratic leaders as they intensified their investigation into Trump’s presidency. But COVID-19 has since shaken the economy, sparked an increase in unemployment claims and overwhelmed hospitals and health care devices.

Democratic House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Chair Chuck Schumer have signaled in the past few weeks that they are open to restarting infrastructure talks. Republican tax-conservative Republicans, who may oppose the idea of ​​even more mammoth spending, could be more likely to protest the president’s plan.

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