White House close to deal with Senate Dems on new coronavirus bill


Senate Democrats and White House reps are poised to announce a deal on another massive coronavirus bill that would replenish small-business loans and fund medical responses to the pandemic.

Two Capitol Hill sources tell The Post the legislation is expected to total $470 billion, with funds going primarily to the Small Business Administration but also to hospitals and a new virus testing initiative.

It’s the fourth massive federal package to address the crisis following a more than $2 trillion stimulus bill passed last month.

The new legislation could pass the Senate as early as Tuesday afternoon, with a House vote as early as Thursday. The core of the bill is a $250 billion expansion of the small-business Paycheck Protection Program that ran out of money last week.

Democrats halted an expansion of the loan program this month, and won $220 billion in additional funds.

Sources in Democratic and Republican Senate leadership teams tell The Post the deal includes $75 billion for health care facilities and $25 billion for a national testing effort.

The deal also includes a $60 billion set-aside for small banks, credit unions and other community lenders to expand the PPP to more businesses, including those without bank accounts.

Another $50 billion goes to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and $10 billion to the SBA’s Emergency Economic Injury Grant program, sources said.

A Republican leadership aide pointed out the package does not include additional funds for state and local governments — an original Democratic demand.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) brokered the agreement with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was involved in the process, two sources told The Post, to make sure Republicans drove a hard bargain.

An initial $350 billion for the PPP was approved last month in the more than $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. The small-business program allows companies with up to 500 employees, and in some cases more, to have loans forgiven if they don’t lay off workers.

The $2 trillion stimulus bill also included a $500 billion loan program for businesses run by the Treasury Department, a $600-per-week boost in unemployment, and $1,200 direct payments to Americans earning up to $75,000.

The White House declined comment.

House passage of the new bill may be complicated by back-bench opposition in both parties. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said he may force lawmakers to return for an in-person vote, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Monday she may oppose the deal.


Source link