White House, Congress 'Very Close' to $450B Deal

Aid package will offer billions for hospitals, testing
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2020 1:30 PM CDT
White House, Congress 'Very Close' to $450B Deal
In this March 20, 2020, file photo Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY, speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting to discuss the coronavirus relief bill on Capitol Hill Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The Trump administration and Congress are nearing an agreement as early as Sunday on an aid package of up to $450 billion to boost a small-business loan program that has run out of money and add funds for hospitals and COVID-19 testing, the AP reports. With small-business owners reeling during a coronavirus outbreak that has shuttered much economic activity, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he was hopeful of a deal that could pass Congress quickly and get the Small Business Administration program back up by midweek. "I think we're very close to a deal today," he said. "I'm hopeful that we can get that done." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, 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. Under the proposed deal, the government’s Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses would get roughly $300 billion, according to Mnuchin. The program has been swamped by businesses applying for loans and reached its appropriations limit last Thursday after approving nearly 1.7 million loans. An additional $50 billion in the evolving deal would go for disaster loans. About $75 billion would go to US 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. The money for hospitals and testing were priorities sought by congressional Democrats.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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