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Waters at Oversight Hearing on Pandemic Response: The Trump Administration Has Utterly Failed in Its Economic Response to This Virus

Washington, DC, September 22, 2020

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, gave the following statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.”

Welcome back, Chair Powell and Secretary Mnuchin.

Since you last testified before this Committee in June, the coronavirus crisis has continued to have a catastrophic impact on communities across the country.

Nearly 200,000 people in the United States have lost their lives to the coronavirus, and there have been over 6.8 million U.S. cases.

Millions of families are struggling to make ends meet during this crisis, and are on the verge of eviction. Over a million small businesses, which are the life blood of our economy, have shut their doors.

As families across the country are looking to Washington for leadership, the Trump Administration has utterly failed in its economic response to this virus.

With 32 percent of renters unable to make their full September rent payment at the beginning of the month according to Apartment List, and back rent piling up, the need for emergency rental assistance to prevent a crushing wave of evictions is growing every day. Instead of rental assistance, the Trump Administration has issued a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) action that temporarily prevents evictions for some renters, but only after they sign documents that potentially expose them to litigation and criminal penalties.

Meanwhile, the unpaid back rent continues to accrue, meaning that the Trump Administration is simply delaying, not preventing evictions. The Heroes Act, which passed the House in May to prevent those evictions and provide other critical relief, is gathering dust on Mitch McConnell’s desk.

I have said before that I am pleased that after calls from Members of this Committee, the Treasury and Small Business Administration made adjustments to the Paycheck Protection Program to ensure that community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions are able to provide loans to the communities they serve, and I appreciate that the Federal Reserve has expanded several programs. But I am frustrated with the Trump Administration’s implementation of pandemic relief programs based on the concerns I continue to hear.

Specifically, I am very concerned that much of the $500 billion Congress allocated in the CARES Act to Treasury, most of which was to support Fed lending to help reeling businesses, nonprofits, and state and local governments, has gone unused. Here we are almost six months after the passage of the CARES Act, and a mere 0.2 percent of Main Street Lending Program funds and 0.3 percent of Municipal Liquidity Facility funds have been put to use. This is unacceptable.

Secretary Mnuchin, Chair Powell, let me be blunt. This pandemic response has fallen badly short, and the Trump Administration has sabotaged efforts to pass a relief package or address the major public health and economic crises we face. Your work to address this crisis doesn’t stop when the stock market recovers from its losses. Your mandate is to help hardworking individuals and families who are suffering.

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