Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is part of the team of President Donald Trump's administration working to make life difficult for the incoming administration.
Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that there is about $455 billion in unspent funds from the CARES Act, which Congress passed to help Americans get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Mnuchin plans to place the money into the agency’s General Fund, a Treasury Department spokesperson said Tuesday. That fund can only be tapped with 'authority based on congressionally issued legislation," the report said, citing, the Treasury’s website.
The $455 billion include about $429 billion Mnuchin is trying to get back from the Federal Reserve, "which backed some of the central bank’s emergency lending facilities." The remaining $26 billion comes from unspent loans Treasury could give directly to companies that need help. Given the bankruptcies, evictions, and companies announcing that they're going out of business, it's unclear why Mnuchin didn't spend such a huge sum of funds when so many needed it.
President-elect Joe Biden has nominated former Fed Chair Janet Yellen to chair the Treasury Department, but his move will leave her with just $80 billion in the Treasury's Exchange Stabilization Fund.
Mnuchin said that markets are no longer in danger so the funds are no longer needed and the program can expire. The markets have nothing to do with evictions or small businesses desperately trying to stay afloat. Mnuchin said the money can be spent on those needs if Congress approves it. Congress already approved the use of the funds earlier this year.
"Mnuchin isn’t required to move the money into the General Fund -- the Cares Act states that the Treasury Department can maintain access to the money by keeping it in its Exchange Stabilization Fund until 2026," said Bloomberg. "Yet moving the unspent money will make it virtually impossible for Yellen, if confirmed by the Senate as Treasury secretary, to deploy on her own. The Biden transition team last week called Mnuchin’s clawing back of unspent money from the Fed 'deeply irresponsible.'”