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Democrats and GOP at impasse over coronavirus small business relief

Democratic and Republican leaders are stalemated on small business relief negotiations, leaving an uncertain path forward as coronavirus-related measures continue to keep most Americans under stay-home orders.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in a joint statement Monday that they’re demanding more help for Americans be included in the the…

Democrats and GOP at impasse over coronavirus small business relief

Democratic and Republican leaders are stalemated on small business relief negotiations, leaving an uncertain path forward as coronavirus-related measures continue to keep most Americans under stay-home orders. 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in a joint statement Monday that they’re demanding more help for Americans be included in the the small business loan program. They warned that state governments, local governments and hospitals are “oversubscribed” and “need more money now.” The two leaders are also calling for more food stamp funding and a national system for rapid testing and personal protective equipment. In addition, they said the small business program should be altered to ensure that loans are properly given out to underserved communities. “We have real problems facing this country, and it’s time for the Republicans to quit the political posturing by proposing bills they know will not pass either chamber and get serious and work with us towards a solution,” they said in a joint statement. On Friday Schumer said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had agreed to pursue bipartisan negotiations in both chambers. Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Monday that he expects the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to run out of money this week — by April 17 — and urged Congress to provide an additional $250 billion for the program. “We are at 661,000 loans approved. Listen to this — $168 billion — $168 billion has been approved….By the way, our estimates are we are going to run out of money for the small business thing April 17,” Kudlow told Fox Business News. 
Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, who presided over a brief pro forma session Monday, told reporters the GOP bill is needed now as the money for small businesses is running out. “The priority right now should be the small businesses,” Sullivan told reporters. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused Democratic demands in a joint statement, urging lawmakers to approve an increase for PPP funding before the program “runs dry.” The two said additional proposals from Democrats can wait until the next larger package. “Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril. This will not be Congress’s last word on COVID-19, but this crucial program needs funding now. American workers cannot be used as political hostages,” McConnell and McCarthy said over the weekend. Last week, the Senate failed to approve legislation that would expand PPP funding. Republicans hoped to approve an additional $250 billion for the program but Senate Democrats held up the legislation by unanimous consent. The Senate adjourned today in a pro forma and will gavel back in on April 16. The House will have a pro forma session on April 14 and 17. The negotiations continue while lawmakers from both chambers are working remotely from their homes but both chambers remain at a standstill. 
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Monday that the House will not be expected to meet until May 4. Hoyer said members would be given “sufficient notice” to return to Washington, DC., for any “critical legislation” related to the coronavirus. At this point, the Senate is still scheduled to be back in the Capitol on April 20, despite increased doubts from senators. 
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