New Treasury office to oversee billions in virus relief help

Janet Yellen

FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2021, file photo, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a virtual roundtable with participants from Black Chambers of Commerce across the country to discuss the American Rescue Plan in Washington. Last year’s coronavirus-triggered market turmoil exposed vulnerable areas in the U.S. economy that need to be addressed by the nation’s top-level financial supervisory group, Yellen said Wednesday, March 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department has created a new office to supervise the disbursement of the billions of dollars in relief money authorized by Congress to combat the coronavirus-related recession. Officials said Wednesday that the goal is to streamline the process and ensure that all eligible groups have access to the aid.

The Office of Recovery Programs will oversee the release of $420 billion in support from the $1.9 trillion package that President Joe Biden pushed through Congress last month, the Treasury said. That package included payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, extended emergency unemployment benefits, rental assistance, support for small businesses and state and local governments.

The new office will also be responsible for supervising programs under the control of Treasury that were approved by Congress last year. In all, Congress has approved around $5 trillion in assistance to help millions of people who lost their jobs, and also businesses that were forced to close due to the pandemic.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the goal of the new office was to “get relief distributed quickly and into the hands of those who need it most.“

The new office will be led by Jacob Leibenluft, who was designated as Treasury’s chief recovery officer. He will work closely with Gene Sperling, named by Biden as White House coordinator for the government’s rescue efforts.

Treasury officials said the new office would oversee a number of relief programs dealing with such areas as state and local government support, emergency rental assistance, support for homeowners to meet mortgage payments, support for small businesses and loans for airlines and national security industries.

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