White House and Congressional Leaders Reach Agreement on Additional Relief Funding


White House officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a bipartisan agreement to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh coronavirus relief aid has been reached.

According to The Hill, Congress will move forward this week with a $480 billion legislative effort aimed at expanding and financially replenishing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act’s most popular programs, including a highly stressed small business loan fund known as the Paycheck Protection Program.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Tuesday morning in an interview with CNN that negotiators “came to an agreement on just about every issue” during late-night talks.

The White House confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a deal had been reached, with President Donald Trump expressing public support for the bill on social media.

“I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing,” Trump wrote.

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“After I sign this Bill, we will begin discussions on the next Legislative Initiative with fiscal relief … to State/Local Governments for lost revenues from COVID 19, much needed Infrastructure Investments for Bridges, Tunnels, Broadband, Tax Incentives for Restaurants, Entertainment, Sports, and Payroll Tax Cuts to increase Economic Growth.”

Very few details have been provided thus far regarding the deal. However, it is known that roughly $320 billion will be allocated to the U.S. Small Business Administration for the PPP.

Another $60 billion was set aside for the CARES Act’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, according to The Hill.

The nation’s hospitals and small banking institutions will also benefit, with $100 billion being allocated to public health response and coronavirus testing efforts, as well as $60 billion for community lenders, the report said.

The deal comes after days of tense negotiations between Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and congressional Democratic leadership.

Negotiations were kicked off last week as Democratic stonewalling halted an expedited legislative effort to pursue financial replenishment specifically for the rapidly evaporating PPP funding stream.

Expecting an extraordinary number of PPP applications amid government-mandated business closures, Mnuchin had urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to pass $251 billion more in small business loan funding within days of the presidential signature for the CARES Act — which had initially allotted the program $350 billion.

Democrats objected to unanimous consent passage of McConnell’s one-page replenishment bill, however, demanding small business aid be held up for increased funding to hospitals, lower-level government virus response and even vote-by-mail programs.

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McConnell said in a tweet Tuesday that he was “encouraged that Democrats have finally agreed to reopen the Paycheck Protection Program and abandon a number of their unrelated demands.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and others lambasted the display, accusing the Democrats of “playing politics with a pandemic.”

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“That’s disgusting to me right now,” McCarthy said at the time, warning opposition lawmakers, “Stop worrying about politics. Start worrying about what’s in front of us right now, and that’s the health of the nation, combating this virus, and our economy.”

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California, for her part, told the media there was “no data” to support claims the PPP was on track for lowered levels of liquidity.

Just 13 days after applications for the loan program were opened, however, funding had entirely run out leaving lawmakers nowhere to run on the need for replenishment, according to PBS NewsHour.

Congressional leadership expects bicameral passage of the new funding agreement as early as Thursday, The Hill reported.

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