Mnuchin, Pelosi close to deal on PPP small business loans

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks with President Donald J. Trump and members of the coronavirus task force during a briefing in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, April 02, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Washington Post

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said the White House and Congress could reach a deal today on supplemental funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. 

The $349 billion rescue loan program ran out of money on Thursday, just two weeks after it was launched to allow banks to issue taxpayer-backed loans to small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Republican and Democratic leaders have been struggling to agree on how to restore its funds as a slew of small American businesses are at risk of shutting down. 

The new deal would add about $300 billion in funding to small businesses and $50 billion for disaster loans. The agreement would also include $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for a federal testing program, which have been main Democratic demands.

Money for state and local governments will not be included in the package, but Mnuchin said President Trump is prepared to discuss funding for state and local governments in the next bill while this package focuses on loans to small businesses and hospitals and testing. 

Mnuchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that leaders are “making a lot of progress” and he hopes the deal will be passed in the Senate on Monday, in the House on Tuesday and be up and running on Wednesday. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks with reporters as she arrives at the U.S. Capitol on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday morning that officials are “very close” to an agreement to replenish the small business fund and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that they could strike a deal on Sunday evening or Monday morning.

“Overwhelmingly, my caucus, and we’re working closely with the Senate Democrats, know that we have an opportunity, and an urgency, to do something for our hospitals, our teachers and firefighters and the rest, right now,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“And then we’re preparing for our next bill,” Pelosi said. “Businesses will have the money in a timely fashion.”

The Trump administration said more than 1.6 million loans were approved to help companies keep employees on payroll. More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks. 

But many small businesses are still waiting for their banks to process an application or confirm whether they qualify for financial assistance from the PPP fund. 

The program has been criticized for providing payments to certain business including large chain restaurants. For instance, Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain, which has more than 5,000 employees, recently disclosed that it received $20 million in loans. 

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