Stimulus checks would hand $3K to family of four, Mnuchin says

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asks members of the media to practice social distancing as he departs a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Monday. (Patrick Semansky/AP photo via Courthouse News)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the Trump administration could start sending payments of $1,000 for adults and $500 for children as part of a $1 trillion economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Under the plan, payments would start within three weeks of Congress passing the legislation, with a second round possible six weeks later if the U.S. economy continues to falter in the face of the pandemic, Mnuchin said.

“That’s a lot of money for hard-working Americans who are at home, no fault of theirs,” Mnuchin said Thursday morning on Fox Business Network.

The payments, which would come as direct deposits, are a key component of a sweeping economic stimulus package the Trump administration is crafting with Congress in an effort to boost an economy struggling amid widespread closures and uncertainty due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A 2-page document the Treasury Department circulated on Wednesday calls for $500 billion in direct payments, which would go out in two installments, one in early April and a second in mid-May. Mnuchin earlier in the week indicated the administration would be interested in means-testing the payments, though it is not yet known what the income threshold to receive the money would be.

As a separate part of the historic stimulus package, Senate Republicans on Wednesday detailed plans for $300 billion in loans to temporarily cover payrolls of small businesses. Under the plan, the loans could be forgiven for businesses that use the money to pay employees and otherwise maintain their workforce.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set up three task forces of Senate Republicans to start working on the stimulus package, but it is still generally unclear what the final proposal will include, how much it will cost, or when it will come for a vote.

Earlier this week, McConnell said Republicans and the administration will work out the details of the package before taking it to Democrats for further negotiations. McConnell has said the Senate will stay in session until it passes the stimulus plan, while the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives earlier this week extended a previously scheduled recess that was set to end Monday.

House leadership has told lawmakers they will have 24-hour notice before having to return to the Capitol for votes.