Committee Holds Hearing with Treasury, Federal Reserve on Coronavirus Economic Response
June 30, 2020 -
Today, the Committee on Financial Services, led by Republican Leader Patrick McHenry (NC-10), held its first quarterly oversight hearing under the CARES Act with Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, to discuss the response to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In his opening remarks, Republican Leader McHenry spoke about the important actions already taken in response to the pandemic, and the work yet to be done:
“Well thank you all for being before the Committee, and behind these salad guards that we’ve arranged for you. Good to see your smiling faces behind your masks, but I’m grateful that we’re able to assemble.
“This is certainly a large undertaking for the second largest committee in Congress, and I do want to commend the Chairwoman for those efforts so we can actually have this hybrid hearing. I think it shows that Congress, and our government, are still working, even if we have to do so using technology. Thank you all for your response, and your active response since this crisis began.
“So, I want to say first of all, I believe the Fed and Treasury’s decisive actions prevented the worst of the economic catastrophe. But there is still much work to be done.
“It’s important to remember, this is not a crisis that was caused by irresponsible choices by any specific industry or corporation.
“What we’ve seen is the impact of a voluntary shutdown of our economy in an effort to save lives.
“The bipartisan CARES Act directed both the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to stand up responsible programs that would have been unthinkable even months ago, and to do so quickly, and you have done so rather quickly.
“Now that many of those programs are up and running, we must be forward thinking to seek solutions to return us to the roaring economy that we experienced right before the global health crisis. That means we need to understand the nature of what we have done, and what we need to do going forward.
“We know the pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of our economy, and every family. Facilities discussed today need to be similarly far-reaching and responsive to economic conditions, not political ones. I know there are a number of programs that have been desired by policymakers to be company specific, or something like that—that’s not the appropriate response nor commensurate with the law.
“Moreover, Members are going to have a lot of questions about fiscal policy, which I think Secretary Mnuchin is best fitted to, and monetary policy, which Chairman Powell is best suited to. I think the understanding of that is important for us as policy makers to experience at the beginning of this hearing, rather than to hear you defer to one another.
“Our role in Congress is to assess the effectiveness of existing programs, determine the goals for additional relief programs, and identify the appropriate entity to provide that relief—that’s our role.
“Of course, we need access to key programmatic data, and so I want to commend Secretary Mnuchin for coming forward with the type of oversight material in a massive, unprecedented way, with the type of loan-level data that we requested in Congress, and to provide that in a transparent way. The thousands of pages of documents that you and your team have assembled for just this Committee alone is staggering in such a short period of time.
“So, I hope my colleagues will use that data appropriately, so we can assess these programs and make sure they’re working. And so, I do want to commend you, Secretary Mnuchin, for the delivery of the PPP Program so effectively, and so quickly. It wasn’t perfect, of course, but it saved millions of jobs.
“And Chairman Powell, I want to commend you. You’ve made your word good in terms of action. And that builds confidence in the institution of the Federal Reserve, that your words actually are as good as action by the Federal Reserve. So, thank you for following through on your word and your commitment.
“So, I think there is positive news in terms of the assessment for this initial response, and I want to thank you for being here at the first quarterly oversight hearing under the CARES Act.
“Madam Chair, on a personal note, I would like to welcome back our friend and colleague, the Ranking Member of the Oversight Subcommittee, Andy Barr, from his family concerns he’s been attending to. So, thank you, Andy, we welcome you back.”
Watch the virtual hearing here.
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