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Schumer Says A Deal Has Been Reached On Funding The Paycheck Protection Act But No Vote Yet
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) leaves after a news conference at the U.S. Capitol March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said the Senate will pass the House coronavirus funding package in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats have reached a “tentative deal” to extend funding for the Paycheck Protection Program — the forgivable-loan program for small businesses that ran out of money late last week.

Democrats, led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have been blocking a $250 billion cash infusion into the emptied $350 billion program, resisting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) efforts to get the emergency funding measure passed by unanimous consent. Pelosi and Schumer want major funding boosts for Democratic special interests, including schools and hospitals (which just received a funding boost in the CARES act), and guarantees that minority and female business owners will receive preferential treatment from banks dispensing the loans.

Schumer told CNN Tuesday morning that negotiations with the White House have resulted in a tentative agreement and only detail work on the bill remains before it can pass without objection.

The groups “came to an agreement on just about every issue,” Schumer said, per Roll Call, referring to discussions between House and Senate Democrats and Trump administration officials — specifically Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has been placed in charge of getting most financial items in the CARES act funded.

“There is still a few more i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but we have a deal and I believe we’ll pass it today,” Schumer added.

The deal, it seems, will grant some measure of the Democrats’ agenda, setting aside $60 billion of the emergency cash infusion for “community banks” and other financial institutions that serve the “unbanked,” so that female- and minority-owned businesses will have access to the forgivable loans.

The price of the package — once quoted at $250 billion — will nearly double, according to sources on the Hill. The final bill may have a price tag as high as $460 billion.

“Of that figure $360 billion would be for small-business relief, with most going to the so-called Paycheck Protection Program, which forgives loans for up to two months’ eligible expenses. Within that total $50 billion is for a separate Small Business Administration disaster loan program that provides money directly to eligible firms,” Roll Call reports. “Another $100 billion would go towards health care expenses, including $75 billion for hospitals and other providers. The remaining $25 billion would be used to establish a COVID-19 testing program.”

Republicans do appear to have won at least one concession from Democrats: there will be no handout to state and local governments, some of whom were planning on using the money to address financial concerns other than those related to the coronavirus. Illinois, for example, was pushing for an additional check from the Federal government that it could use to pay off some of its mounting debt.

Even if both sides settle on a bill Tuesday, House Democratic leadership says the earliest a vote could come would be Thursday, largely because not all House Democrats are on board with the compromise bill: “Democratic leaders plan to call members back to Washington for a recorded vote due to likely objections to passing the measure by unanimous consent.”

Progressive Democrats, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) object to the bill on principle, according to NBC News, and fear that they might be giving away “leverage” if the relief package does not include handouts to cities and states.

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