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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Win McNamee / Staff

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.

Why it matters: U.S. producers are facing financial distress from the price collapse that stems from COVID-19 causing an unprecedented drop in oil demand, and the Saudi-Russia price war.

Driving the news: GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who heads the Energy Committee, on Wednesday sent Mnuchin a letter urging him to consider the industry for loans under the recently signed $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill.

Where it stands: Mnuchin, when asked about her request at a White House briefing, said he has "very limited ability to do direct loans out of the Treasury," and that he can provide only for specific sectors including airlines and national security companies.

But he added: "Outside of that, we work with the Federal Reserve to create broad-based lending facilities, which we will do."

"Our expectation is the energy companies, like all our other companies, will be able to participate in broad-based facilities, whether it's the corporate facility or whether it's the Main Street facility."
— Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
20 mins ago - World

Israeli ground troops join the fight near Gaza, raising threat of war

Israeli troops prepare to fire shells toward the Gaza Strip. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.

Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, there have not yet been reports of a ground invasion of Gaza. But Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Updated 47 mins ago - Economy & Business

The states ending federal pandemic unemployment benefits early

Protesters demand senators support the continuation of unemployment benefits on July 16, 2020 in Miami Springs, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.

Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.