Senate punts stalled coronavirus aid to Thursday

 

The Senate on Monday punted any action on a stalled coronavirus relief bill until at least Thursday, after adjourning without taking action.

The Senate held a "pro forma" session — brief, constitutionally required meetings that take place every three days — with Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanBottom line US security starts in the Arctic Senate confirms nation's first African American service chief MORE (R-Alaska) presiding as the only senator in the chamber. 

It was the first Senate meeting since Thursday when Democrats and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad State and local officials beg Congress to send more election funds ahead of November Teacher's union puts million behind ad demanding funding for schools preparing to reopen MORE (R-Ky.) blocked dueling proposals to provide additional funding for a small business program that was passed as part of last month's $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

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Monday's meeting, which lasted approximately 30 seconds, ended with neither party making an attempt to pass the stalled aid for a second time. Any attempt would likely have been blocked as leadership in both parties remain stalemated by the size of the "interim" package. 

That delays any Senate action until at least Thursday when the chamber is next scheduled to be in session. 

And it will push consideration of the new funding up against, and potentially past, Friday — when White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE predicted the initial $350 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program will run out.

"We're going to run out of money for the small business thing April 17. That's why we would like the Congress to help us with the additional $250 billion," Kudlow told Fox Business.  

The Paycheck Protection Program provides loans and grants to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. 

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Because of the interest in the program, sparked by the wide economic impact of the coronavirus, administration officials and lawmakers say the program will need more funding.  

Republicans want to pass $250 billion in new funding as a stand-alone bill, kicking any other funding demands until the fourth coronavirus package. 

After Democrats blocked a "clean" increase in the small business funding Thursday, McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue MORE (R-Calif.) pledged over the weekend to keep pushing for their preferred proposal. 

"Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril. ... We will continue to seek a clean PPP funding increase. We hope our Democratic colleagues familiarize themselves with the facts and the data before the program runs dry," they said in a joint statement. 

Democrats, however, want the additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program to be paired with an additional $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments and a boost in food assistance funding. They also want to make reforms to the PPP program to guarantee part of any assistance goes toward smaller lenders.  

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Democrats tried to pass their proposal on Thursday, but Republicans rejected it. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.) spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhy Trump can't make up his mind on China Five takeaways from PPP loan data On The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill MORE late last week and had said that he hoped to get a deal by earlier this week. 

But Schumer and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.) signaled Monday morning that the talks remain stalemated and urged Republicans to "stop posturing." 

“We have real problems facing this country, and it’s time for the Republicans to quit the political posturing by proposing bills they know will not pass either chamber and get serious and work with us towards a solution," Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.