Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell came close to acknowledging that the central bank may not have the firepower to fight the next recession and called on Congress to get ready to help.

The current low level of interest rates “means that it would be important for fiscal policy to support the economy if it weakens,” he told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday.

The remark, which came in opening testimony that Powell is due to repeat to a Senate panel on Wednesday, was an unusual appeal by the head of a politically independent institution that is used to combating economic contractions on its own.

But it highlights the difficulties that the Fed and other major central banks face in a world of historically low interest rates and why tax cuts and government spending increases may also be needed to fight future downturns.

“There is very little central banks can do” when both short- and longer-term rates are near zero, said Mark Spindel, a co-author of a book about the Fed’s relations with Congress. “We are much closer to a fiscal-monetary collaboration. They are out of optimal monetary policy tools.”

Speaking in Strasbourg on Tuesday, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde was more explicit than Powell about the limits to central bank power.

“Monetary policy cannot, and should not, be the only game in town,” she told European lawmakers. Admitting he was “straying a bit” from his remit, Bank of England Governorr Mark Carney also backed the U.K. government’s new spending program.

The Fed is engaged in an in-depth review of its policies and practices that is aimed at finding ways to enhance its recession-fighting abilities.

Powell’s comment on Tuesday though suggests he recognizes that there’s just so much the central bank can do in that regard.

After three reductions last year, the Fed’s target for short-term interest rates now stands at 1.5% to 1.75%, less than half the 500 basis points in cuts it has made to fight past downturns.

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