U.S. lawmakers are very close to an agreement on approving extra money to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and could seal a deal as early as Sunday, congressional and Trump administration officials said.
“I think we’re very close to a deal today and I’m hopeful we can get that done,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in an interview with CNN.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer also said he hoped an agreement with Republicans could be sealed as early as Sunday evening. Schumer cautioned, however, that both sides had a few more issues to deal with.
Mnuchin said he believes another $300 billion should be sufficient to reach everyone seeking a small business loan.
He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that funding for states would not be included in the interim funding bill. He said he spoke to Schumer on Sunday morning and that the Democrat was on board with the new small business loan program.
An agreement would end a stalemate that has lasted more than a week over Republican President Donald Trump’s request to add $250 billion to a small-business loan program. Congress established the program last month as part of a $2.3 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan, but it has already run out of money.
Over two frantic weeks, the U.S. government pledged $350 billion to Main Street businesses across America desperate for cash after coronavirus lockdowns.
Now a picture is emerging of who got the money. More than 25% of the total pot went to fewer than 2% of the firms that got relief. They include a number of publicly traded companies with thousands of employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.
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“I think we’re very close to an agreement,” Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” broadcast on Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence also said on “Fox News Sunday” that negotiations are going on and “We’re very close.”
Pelosi and Schumer wanted more money for small businesses but also sought more coronavirus response funds for state and local governments and hospitals, as well as food assistance for the poor.