WASHINGTON -U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the lack of further fiscal support would pose a downside risk to the U.S. economy, which is recovering from the COVID-19 induced recession.

“While the economy has been doing better than expected, I think there’s downside risk to that if there is no further fiscal support,” Powell said at a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

There are roughly 11 million Americans who have lost jobs during the pandemic and those people are able to spend now because of government assistance such as enhanced unemployment insurance, Powell noted.

“There’s downside risk to the economy probably coming if some form of that support doesn’t continue,” he said. While the extra federal unemployment benefits for roughly 30 million Americans expired at the end of July, congressional lawmakers and the Trump administration remain deadlocked over the next COVID-19 relief package.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday at the same hearing that a targeted relief package is still needed and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement.

“I believe there is significant bipartisan support for legislation that supports kids and jobs particularly for extending the PPP to those hardest hit industries that need a second payment,” Mnuchin said, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday again urged Republicans to support bigger COVID-19 relief package to blunt the economic fallout.

“We came down a trillion dollars in our $3.4 trillion bill, then we offered to meet the Republicans halfway. We still haven’t heard back about that,” Pelosi said at a weekly press conference.

“We need more money for small businesses, restaurants, airlines and many other key priorities,” she said. House Democrats unveiled a 3-trillion-U.S.-dollar relief proposal in May, which didn’t gain support from Republicans. Senate Republicans put forward a 1-trillion-dollar package in late July, and failed to advance a slimmed-down proposal earlier this month.

Meanwhile, US federal debt is projected to reach nearly twice the size of the economy in 2050, driven by the massive fiscal response to the COVID-19-induced recession, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in a report.

“Even after the effects of the 2020 corona-virus pandemic fade, deficits in coming decades are projected to be large by historical standards,” the report said, expecting the federal deficit to increase from 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030 to 13 percent in 2050.

The projected budget deficits will boost federal debt from 98 percent of GDP in 2020 to 195 percent of GDP in 2050, just below twice the economy’s total size, according to the CBO.

“High and rising federal debt makes the economy more vulnerable to rising interest rates and, depending on how that debt is financed, rising inflation,” the report said, warning the growing debt burden also raises borrowing costs and increases the risk of a fiscal crisis.

“CBO’s report shows 30 straight years of trillion-dollar deficits that grow and grow, leaving no doubt that we’re on a dangerous and unsustainable fiscal path,” Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said Monday in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the corona-virus crisis has simply accelerated an already unsustainable fiscal trajectory, because of its devastating effect on the economy and the necessary legislative response,” Peterson said.

“Once we have emerged from the pandemic, it will be more important and urgent than ever for our leaders to manage our debt, to ensure that America is more prepared for the future, better positioned for widespread and inclusive growth, and meeting our moral obligation to future generations,” he added.

The International Monetary Fund also warned in June that the U.S. public debt is on an unsustainable path, and policy adjustments are needed to lower the fiscal deficit and to put public debt on a gradual downward path over the medium term.