Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Photo: AP) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Photo: AP)

On top of the major expansion of lending programs announced by the Federal Reserve Board on Monday to keep credit markets functioning, Congress needs to approve an additional fiscal stimulus package today, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC early Monday morning.

“Congress needs to approve additional funds today so that we can move forward and support American workers and the American economy,” Mnuchin said during an interview on “Mad Money With Jim Cramer.”

For small businesses with 500 workers or fewer, Mnuchin said, there’s “enormous bipartisan support” for a Phase 3 stimulus plan. “We are providing immediate loans to small businesses,” he said. “We’re working with the [Small Business Administration]; we’re going to make sure that banks can immediately lend money to companies that are 500 [employees] and less that will cover two weeks of payroll and some overhead as long as those companies hire back their workers or keep their workers.”

At the end of that period, Mnuchin added, “we will forgive those loans entirely.”

Mnuchin said that he also has the IRS “working on direct deposits” for Americans. “I expect that money will be out in the next two to three weeks, in peoples’ checking accounts or savings accounts.”

Mnuchin said the amounts would be in the range of “a little over $3,000 for a family of four,” adding that there are some mechanisms and phase-outs. “You can think of this as bridge loans to American workers as we set up these other programs.”

Negotiations over a third phase of coronavirus legislation stalled over the weekend. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday that the bill “included a large corporate bailout with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight. Also very troubling, the bill had significant shortfalls of money that our hospitals, states, cities and medical workers desperately needed. This is a public health crisis; it is inexplicable to skimp on funding to address the pandemic.”

Schumer said that changes to the Phase 3 bill are being made to incorporate the Democrats’ “Workers First” legislation.

“Changes to the legislation are being made, even as we speak,” Schumer said Sunday afternoon. “The bill can, and must, continue to improve. We’re closer than we’ve been at any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement, but there are still too many problems in the proposed legislation.”

Said Schumer: “Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next 24 hours? Yes. We can and we should. The nation demands it.”

— Check out Senators’ Stock Sales After Virus Briefings Spark Advisor Debate on ThinkAdvisor.