U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on Tuesday (April 21) that "we have a deal" on a new $300 billion-plus package of Paycheck Protection Package (PPP) loans for small and medium-sized businesses, although Republicans say it isn't quite final.
“We have a deal, and I believe we’ll pass it today,” Schumer told CNN. "There are some T's to cross and I's to dot, but we have a deal."
The New York Democrat said he expects the measure to pass the Senate on Tuesday and go on next to the House. Published reports say that the PPP money will be part of a nearly $500 billion COVID-19 package that will offer assistance to small businesses and aid for hospitals, which the Democrats insisted on.
Congress and President Donald Trump originally approved $349 billion in PPP loans to help SMBs, but the money ran out in just 13 days, and many firms claimed they didn't get anything.
About $310 billion of the new fund will go to the Small Business Association's PPP plan, The Wall Street Journal said. The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program — which provides loans directly to small businesses sidestepping banks and credit unions — would get $60 billion. Another $75 billion has been set aside for hospitals, while $25 billion will aim to make virus testing available nationwide. No money is set aside in the bill for state and local governments, something the Democrats were pushing for and the Republicans were against. Also kept out of the bill was a 15 percent boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Democrats, Republicans and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin worked through the weekend to agree on terms. Still, CNN quoted unnamed Republican sources as saying the deal is not yet set in stone. While some concepts may have been agreed to late on Monday night, the actual legislative language has not been finalized, the sources told CNN.
Schumer said he was on the phone past midnight on Monday night with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. “We came to an agreement on just about every issue and [the] staff was up all night writing,” he said. Schumer said one of the sticking points was the Democrats holding out for not only money for coronavirus testing, but also a national strategy to get it done.
“The president and Mnuchin agreed, much to their credit,” he added.