House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they’re close to an agreement on providing more aid during the CCP virus pandemic, including infusing a small-business relief fund with more cash after it ran out of money last week.
Last week, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was included under the landmark $2.2 trillion deal passed by Congress to offset losses during the pandemic, exhausted its initial reserves. This prompted calls from Republicans to pass another measure to fund it, but neither the House nor the Senate made much progress last week before adjourning for the weekend.
“We want to add more money there,” Pelosi told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
“It is very urgent, though, that we support our—our police and fire, our health care workers, our nurses, our teachers.
“That’s what the state and local government is about, is meeting the needs of the coronavirus. And everything that we’re doing is about the coronavirus, understand that.”
Pelosi said the deal will “be soon,” adding that “these small businesses must thrive in a community where they’re, again, health is essential to them opening up.”
In a separate interview on April 19, Mnuchin laid out a possible time table on when it could get passed.
“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. Wednesday, we would be back up and running,” he told CNN.
The program’s initial $350 billion has been depleted, according to the Small Business Administration. Democrats have said they wouldn’t add the $250 billion that Republicans have called for, saying that other issues need to be ironed out first.
Now Congress is facing pressure to pass PPP funding unanimously as soon as possible, coming as more than 22 million Americans have lost work over the past week amid business shutdowns to curb the spread of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
On April 19, Mnuchin echoed the House Speaker’s optimism on passing the deal.
“I think we’re very close to a deal today, and I’m hopeful we can get that done,” Mnuchin told CNN.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) on April 16 said that it is “unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding,” adding, “We are unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time.”
Mnuchin and SBA administrator Jovita Carranza, a day before that said no new approvals can be sent out after funds are exhausted, saying that a significant amount of loans have been doled out in recent days.
“The SBA has processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days,” the two officials said, while calling on Congress to infuse the program with more funds because it’s “saving millions of jobs and helping America’s small businesses make it through this challenging time.”
In another April 19 interview, Pelosi said she’s open to the idea of using proxy voting, saying it could happen for emergency legislation. The move would require a change in the House rules.
“We have a template. We’ve done it once. We can do it again,” she told ABC News.