Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement at a full Committee hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Treasury Department's and Federal Reserve's Pandemic Response.”
Secretary Mnuchin, Chair Powell, welcome back.
The pandemic continues to have a terrible impact. More than 126,000 people have lost their lives in the U.S., and this past Sunday, there were over 40,000 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily cases yet.
The unemployment rate in May was 13.3 percent, nearly four times higher than it was last May. All of the job gains of the past decade have been wiped out.
Communities of color have been affected disproportionately both by the virus and its economic impacts. The Centers for Disease Control reports that as of June, Black and Latinx Americans are 4 to 5 times more likely than Whites to be hospitalized for COVID-19. And half of all black adults are not working.
During the 2008 foreclosure crisis, we saw a similar disproportionate impact on communities of color. This was followed by an unequal recovery, where white households regained the wealth they lost; black and brown households are still trying to catch up. We cannot endure another unequal crisis or unequal recovery. Your agencies and Congress must do all that we can to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
I want to thank both of you for your efforts thus far, and for the ways you have worked with me and the Members of this committee, including taking my many calls, to strengthen the implementation of the CARES Act.
Secretary Mnuchin, you have used your authority to provide Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) greater access to the Paycheck Protection Program, including by setting aside $10 billion for them to lend to ensure more loans go to small minority owned businesses.
Chairman Powell, you have worked with us to reduce the minimum loan size at the Main Street Lending Facility from $1 million to $250,000, and to extend the length of the loans. You have also broadened the eligibility of the Municipal Liquidity Facility to increase access to a greater number of cities and towns.
The CARES Act has provided important relief to struggling families and communities, but as the pandemic has strengthened, so to must our efforts to fight it.