Schumer Says SBA Loan Deal Reached; White House Says It’s Close

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that lawmakers have a tentative deal with the Trump administration on additional pandemic relief that would replenish a tapped-out small business aid program while providing money for coronavirus testing and overwhelmed hospitals.

But an administration official and a Senate Republican aide cautioned that while the two sides were very close on the nearly $500 billion legislation, some final details have yet to be settled.

Schumer said he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had settled all the major issues involving funding for small businesses, coronavirus testing and hospitals with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Schumer said Mnuchin and Meadows were in contact with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump.

“We do have a deal, and I believe we will pass it this afternoon at 4 p.m.,” Schumer said on CNN. “They are still dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, but every major issue was resolved.”

25,240 in U.S.Most new cases today

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-1.​177 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23 -0.​5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March

The Senate is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday for a pro forma session, and the measure could be approved then if text is completed and all senators agree to approve it by unanimous consent. If that happens, a House vote as soon as Thursday is expected, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced early Tuesday.

The new package would replenish the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, which was part of the $2 trillion stimulus approved late last month and ran out of money last week. Passage would allow the government to take new applicants for the program, which provides forgivable loans to small business that keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks.

The basic outline of the plan was announced Sunday: In addition to the PPP funding, it was to include $50 billion to $60 billion for a separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan program; $75 billion for hospitals, with a significant portion aimed at those in rural areas; and $25 billion for virus testing.

Pelosi said on CNN Monday night that there was an agreement on the principles of the aid package and that negotiations were “down to the fine print.”

Last-minute holdups included how the new testing program would be run.

Democrats had blocked a bill almost two weeks ago that would have added $250 billion to the small business aid plan without the extra money for other programs. Republicans hammered Democrats for the move, but Democrats argued that more hospital funds were needed amid the Covid-19 pandemic even if all previous funds hadn’t yet been spent.

Ultimately, Mnuchin decided to strike a bipartisan deal with Pelosi and Schumer by acceding to some of their demands. Democrats had also sought $150 billion for state and local governments, but Republicans rejected that proposal.

— With assistance by Steven T. Dennis

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