Congress and the Trump administration have reached a deal on a new round of coronavirus aid that could be approved by the Senate on Tuesday afternoon if all 100 senators agree.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the accord just an hour before the Senate will try and pass the agreement and rapped Democrats for blocking a previous proposal to give money to small businesses.
“I am just sorry that it took my colleagues in Democratic leadership 12 days to accept the inevitable,” McConnell said. “The American people are counting on Congress to put aside reflexive partisanship and work across the aisle to help our nation through this pandemic.”
The legislation totals $484 billion and would deliver funding to small businesses, hospitals, and for testing. The Senate is scheduled to come in for a 4 p.m. session on Tuesday. Leaders are seeking to have the legislation approved unanimously.
“We have a deal, and I believe we will pass it today,” Schumer said on CNN. Despite optimism over the weekend, Democrats and the Trump administration struggled to clinch the agreement and failed to deliver it during Monday’s Senate session.
“I think it will happen at 4 o’clock today,” Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) agreed on C-SPAN. “I think it will go a long way for small businesses.”
Aides in both parties said they were still finalizing the legislation throughout the day and making sure it could pass unanimously. President Donald Trump also signaled he’d sign the legislation into law, tweeting Tuesday that he’s urging lawmaker to pass the bill “with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing.”
According to a summary of the deal obtained by POLITICO, the legislation includes $321 billion for the depleted Paycheck Protection Program, of which $60 billion is set aside for underbanked businesses, a priority for Democrats.
The deal also includes $60 billion in loans and grants for economic disaster assistance, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. Of that testing money, $11 billion will go to states and some will also go to the federal government.
Two weeks ago, Senate Democrats blocked the Senate GOP’s initial offer of $250 billion for small businesses, demanding a broader package of aid that included millions of dollars for hospitals and states. That conflict has resulted in a standoff between Democrats and Republicans, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin moving to arbitrate the impasse.
The Paycheck Protection Program ran out of its initial $349 billion round of funding last week. Republicans have hammered Democrats for blocking efforts to replenish the small business fund.
“Democratic leaders blocked the money and spent days trying to negotiate extraneous issues that were never on the table. I am grateful our colleagues have walked away from those demands and will finally let Congress act,” McConnell said.
But Democrats counter that the bill expected to pass Congress this week contains much of what they demanded two weeks ago, pinning the delay on Republicans.