Pelosi presses Mnuchin on $500B coronavirus 'interim' package

Pelosi presses Mnuchin on $500B coronavirus 'interim' package
© Greg Nash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE (D-Calif.) on Friday pressed the Trump administration to boost funding for states and hospitals in the next round of coronavirus relief, which stalled in the Senate a day earlier.

In a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMenendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election MORE, Pelosi said that while Democrats support an additional $250 billion for small businesses, as the administration and congressional Republicans have proposed, they'll also insist on language ensuring that businesses owned by minorities, and those operating in rural areas, are able to access the funds quickly, according to Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.

Marginalized small businesses have struggled to access funding under the $350 billion first-come, first-served emergency loan program approved by Congress, raising concerns that the bulk of the benefits will go to larger enterprises that have well-greased relationships with lending institutions.


"[Pelosi] reiterated Democrats’ position that the initiative must not solidify the disparity in access to capital faced by many small businesses in underserved areas," Hammill said in an email.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Democrats also want an additional $150 billion for state and local governments, to help facilitate the emergency response, and $100 billion more for hospitals and community health centers providing front-line care in the coronavirus fight. Those requests come on top of the $150 billion for states, and roughly $120 billion for hospitals, already adopted late last month in the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

At the direction of the White House, Senate Republicans sought Thursday to pass legislation providing an additional $250 billion for quick-access loans to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program, an emergency initiative created under CARES. It was blocked by Senate Democrats because it excluded the same provisions Pelosi is seeking.

Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (D-N.Y.) have been in negotiations to break the impasse. Pelosi's conversation with the Treasury secretary on Friday is an indication she'll be central to any agreement, which would also need to move through the House, controlled by Democrats, to reach President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE's desk.


Separately, Democrats are working on a much broader package, dubbed CARES 2, to include a boost in funding for medical supplies, coronavirus care, unemployment insurance and cash payments to individuals.

House Democrats have grumbled that they were largely cut out of the negotiations over the initial CARES bill; Pelosi is fighting to ensure the lower chamber plays a greater role in what's to come.

“The Speaker recommends proceeding on a bipartisan basis involving the four corners of the House and Senate so that Congress can move expeditiously on an interim package and a CARES 2 package to put additional money in the hands of those who need it most and ensure our frontline workers have the resources they need,” Hammill said in an email.

Pelosi was joined on Friday's call by Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sticks to his Afghanistan deadline Biden commends Pelosi for 'masterful' leadership Overnight Energy: Democrats tout new report to defend KeystoneXL cancellation MORE (D-Ore.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who's crafting a sweeping infrastructure bill that Democrats hope, eventually, to incorporate in Congress's coronavirus response.

DeFazio and Mnuchin spoke about a provision of the CARES Act, soon to be launched by Treasury, designed to keep airline workers employed through the crisis, Hammill said.

DeFazio's office declined to comment.

Updated at 4:21 p.m.