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The small business loan program may soon be replenished.
The Trump administration and Congress are nearing an agreement on an aid package of up to $450 billion to help the program that has run out of money.
The proposal would include funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.
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President Donald Trump said Sunday, “We're getting close to a deal.”
Along with the small business boost, Trump said the negotiators were looking at "helping our hospitals," particularly hard-hit rural health care providers.
A deal could be announced Monday, the president said at a White House briefing.
With owners reeling during a coronavirus outbreak that has shuttered much economic activity, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier Sunday he was hopeful of a deal that could pass Congress quickly and get the Small Business Administration program back up by midweek.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he believed a deal could be reached late Sunday or early Monday. “We still have a few more details to deal with,” he said.
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The Senate is scheduled for a pro forma session Monday, but no vote has been set.
The House announced it could meet as soon as Wednesday for a recorded vote on the pending package.
Details of the deal include $300 billion for small business payroll program, and $50 billion would be available for small business disaster fund. Additionally, it would bring $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing, according to those involved in the talks.
On a conference call Sunday afternoon that included Trump, Mnuchin and Republican senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., indicated the only remaining item for discussion involved the money for testing, according to a Senate GOP leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a private call.
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About $75 billion would go to U.S. hospitals, for those straining under a ballooning coronavirus caseload as well as those struggling to stay financially afloat after suspending elective surgeries during the pandemic. About $25 billion would be added for COVID-19 testing, something states have said was urgently needed. The money for hospitals and testing were priorities sought by congressional Democrats.
But additional aid to state and local governments would be left out, Mnuchin said. Democrats have been keen to boost funding to cash-strapped states and local governments whose revenues have cratered, but the issue threatened to provoke fights between large, high-tax states like California and New York and smaller states more typically run by Republicans.
“The president is willing to consider that in the next bill, but wants to get this over the finish line with a focus on small businesses, hospitals and testing,” Mnuchin said.
Schumer said Democrats would insist on aid for state and local governments. They had submitted a compromise offer Friday that would provide $150 billion for states as well as cities, counties and towns based on need. Key swing states for Trump in the November presidential election — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin — would receive billions in new aid under the proposal, according to a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of private negotiations.
“We are pushing hard,” 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.”
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., predicted an agreement would be reached “soon.”
Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who leads the National Governors’ Association, said he and other governors believe that aid for state and local government is “desperately needed,'' but that it may not be an issue worth fighting over for now.
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said states needed money from the federal government to ramp up testing, and he blasted legislation that wouldn’t provide it.
“You have the president saying 15 times, ‘It’s up to the governors, it’s up to the governors, it’s up to the governors,'" he said. "And then they’re going to pass a piece of legislation that gives you know what to states: zero, zilch, nada, niente. Whatever language you want to say it, nothing. But then how are the states supposed to do this?”
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The SBA loans, based on a company’s payroll costs, offer owners forgiveness if they retain workers or rehire those who have been laid off. The law provides for forgiveness for companies in any industry — even businesses like hedge funds and law firms. There’s a limit of $100,000 on the amount of employees’ compensation that can be considered when loan forgiveness is calculated.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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