U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urges Congress to approve targeted fiscal package

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday urged the Congress to pass a targeted fiscal package to support the economic recovery.

"Based on recent economic data, I continue to believe that a targeted fiscal package is the most appropriate federal response," Mnuchin made the remarks in his testimony before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

"I strongly encourage Congress to use the $455 billion in unused funds from the CARES Act to pass an additional bill with bipartisan support," Mnuchin said, referring to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, approved in late March.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently renewed his push for a focused, targeted COVID-19 relief, and denounced Democrats' proposal as "absurd" and "socialist."

"Our country needs more smart, focused relief that is targeted to schools, healthcare, small businesses, & those who are hurting the most," McConnell said in a tweet after the general elections.

On Monday, the Republican leader urged the Congress to deliver more COVID-19 relief this year, and lashed out at Democrats, accusing them of blocking the bill. "Even House and Senate Democrats are publicly saying that Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi's and Leader (Chuck) Schumer's all-or-nothing obstruction needs to stop," McConnell said.

Democratic leaders, however, recently argued that Democrats have negotiated "in good faith" with the Trump administration for months and lowered their request by 1.2 trillion dollars, but McConnell cut his "already-insufficient proposal" in half, from 1 trillion to 500 billion dollars.

The Democrats-controlled House passed a 3.4-trillion-dollar relief bill in May, and in early October, the chamber approved a 2.2-trillion-dollar bill, a trimmed version of the original one.

Democrats have insisted that the next relief package should include a national testing and tracing plan for the virus, and more aid to state and local governments, which hasn't gained support from Republicans.

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