Treasury secretary, Democratic leaders 'hopeful' for agreement on coronavirus package

Treasury secretary, Democratic leaders 'hopeful' for agreement on coronavirus package
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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Democratic congressional leaders say they're hopeful a deal on funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses will be reached and a bill will pass in the coming days.

Mnuchin said he had multiple conversations on the weekend with Senate and House leadership. 

“I think we're making a lot of progress,” Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

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I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement, that the Senate can pass this tomorrow, and that the House can take it up on Tuesday, and, Wednesday, we'd be back up and running … I'm hopeful,” he added. “I think we're very close to a deal today. And I'm hopeful that we can get that done.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year Pelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg MORE (D-N.Y.) said in an interview on CNN he is “very hopeful we could come to an agreement tonight or early tomorrow morning.” 

“You have got a lot of details, a lot of dotted I's and crossed T's. But I am -- I am very, very hopeful,” Schumer said. 

The development comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Congress is “very close” to a deal in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that aired Sunday morning. 

The initial $349 billion for the small business loans program ran out of money last week. The PPP provides loans to small businesses which are forgivable if the businesses use the money for certain expenses including keeping employees on staff.

Republicans had pushed to pass a clean bill that includes only an additional $250 billion for the loans program while Democrats wanted to attach funding for hospitals and state and local governments, as well as requirements a certain percentage of the loans be used for minority, women or veteran owned businesses. 

Attempts to pass both Republican and Democratic versions of the bill by unanimous consent failed last week.

Schumer said many of the things Democrats have been pushing for, including funding for testing and hospitals, will be included in the next bill. 

“So we feel pretty good. We still have a few more issues to deal with,” Schumer added.

Mnuchin said there will not be funding for state and local government in this measure, but Schumer said Democrats will continue to push for local and state funding to be included in the agreement. 

“We are pushing hard. Well, they said, until the last minute, that it wouldn't be in COVID three. And we pushed for $150 billion, and it got in. And it is so important,” Schumer said. “We don't want our police, our firefighters, our EMTs, our bus drivers -- this is not an abstract issue. We don't want them fired….They're as important as anybody else. So, we're continuing to push hard for that in COVID 3-5.”

Mnuchin said Trump is “prepared to discuss” state and local funding “in the next bill.” 

“Right now, we have a lot of money that we're distributing to the states. We have $150 billion, that we have distributed half. We will distribute the other half. And the president is willing to consider that in the next bill, but wants to get this over the finish line, with focus on small business, hospitals and testing,” he said.