Trump says he’s open to attaching other items to small business funding

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President Trump told senators during a phone call Thursday that he’s open to attaching money for hospitals and state and local governments to an additional $250 billion for a popular Small Business Administration (SBA) lending program. 

Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have stuck close to congressional Republican leaders in recent days in opposing Democratic demands to approve an additional $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local budgets but the president on Thursday indicated he is ready for a deal with Democrats. 

Trump told Republican and Democratic senators Thursday that he would be open to attaching additional items requested by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to new money for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who participated in the call.

Republican leaders have insisted until now the $250 billion for the small-business lending program be approved by itself. 

The Senate convened briefly Thursday afternoon for a pro forma session during which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) formally postponed the date for lawmakers to return to Washington to May 4.

He adjourned without taking any action on the Paycheck Protection Program, which exhausted its $349 billion appropriation earlier in the day. 

The Senate’s next pro forma session is scheduled for April 20 when it could approve any deal reached between McConnell, Mnuchin, Schumer and Pelosi. In the meantime, however, the SBA will not be able to approve any additional small-business loans.

“I was on a conference call with a number of Democrats and Republicans from the Congress this morning with the president when Secretary Mnuchin told the president we are now officially out of money for the Paycheck Protection Program,” Blunt said.

Blunt said Trump expressed hope “that Democrats and Republicans can work together to find a solution here.”

“That may involve something in addition to just advancing the Paycheck Protection Plan,” Blunt added.

Asked to clarify that Trump did indeed express openness to additional funding for programs other than the small-business lending initiative, Blunt replied: “yes.”

“It’s been a full week now since the president asked for an increase [for] Paycheck Protection. It’s very possible it’s now obvious that something else has come up. I would think that money for rural hospitals and other hospitals that didn’t benefit as much as they should have from that first distribution … would be in place to have that discussion,” he added.

“This is something that Democrats and Republicans at the leadership level should be able to figure out what is it that we really need to do right now,” he said. “We know that’s Paycheck Protection. Apparently the president’s open to discussing another topic or two.”

The SBA reported Wednesday night that there have been more than 1.5 million small-business loans approved under the Paycheck Protection Program with more than 4,900 lending institutions participating.

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Roy Blunt Steven Mnuchin
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