Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday admitted the coronavirus relief package Republicans released in late July as an initial offer to House Democrats did not include enough aid for food assistance programs, even as children go hungry in the United States.
Mnuchin made the comment on CNBC after host Jim Cramer asked whether there was any room for the Trump administration to increase their coronavirus aid offer to reach a deal with Democrats, as negotiations in Congress are currently stalled.
"I listened to the speaker over the weekend. She's right. We started low on food, we realized there's a lot of kids out there that — there's an issue," Mnuchin said, saying that adding more aid for food programs could be a "compromise" the Trump administration is willing to make.
The coronavirus relief package Democrats passed on May 15 includes a 15 percent increase in the maximum food stamp allowance in the midst of the devastating coronavirus-fueled economic crisis.
But the bill Senate Republicans unveiled in late July did not include any added funding for food stamps. Instead, it included a bigger tax break for businesses on meal expenses, known colloquially as the "three-martini lunch."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made adding funding for food assistance programs one of her sticking points in negotiating a coronavirus relief package.
"Children are food insecure, families are at the risk of being evicted, the virus is moving like a freight train, even though the president has ignored and delayed and distorted what that is," Pelosi said on Fox News Sunday, adding that that the executive actions Trump took on Saturday do not solve the crisis the country is facing.
Meanwhile, even as Republicans did not offer any added funding for food, the Trump administration has been using the argument that food insecurity is a reason why children need to be sent back to school in-person during the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2017, the Trump administration has made multiple attempts to cut food assistance to Americans with lower incomes, including proposing cuts to meals on wheels and changes to food stamp eligibility that would kick nearly one million kids off of free school lunch programs.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.