Apr 19, 2020 - Health

Congress, White House near deal on Paycheck Protection Program

Illustration of Capitol filled with money
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Lawmakers on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue could reach a deal by the end of Sunday night on a new coronavirus spending package that will deliver billions more of emergency funding for small businesses, hospitals and testing.

Driving the news: The bill is expected to include at least $300 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that dried up this week, up from Republicans' original ask of $250 billion.

  • The White House has also agreed to include some of Democrats' demands, including $75 billion for hospitals, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and $25 billion to expand coronavirus testing.

Democrats still want another $150 billion for state and local governments, but during a conference call with President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Sunday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Senate Republicans that that money would not be in the package, per a Senate Republican leadership aide.

  • The thinking among some Trump administration officials is that many states should be reopening their governments soon and that additional funding could deter them from doing so.
  • There are also smaller details within the bill that still need to be hammered out, two senior Democratic aides said, including specifics on how the money will be spent and who has access to the funding.

Mnuchin says he thinks the final bill could be signed into law on Wednesday.

  • "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," Mnuchin told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" earlier today.
  • Democrats involved in the negotiations are more skeptical, saying they're hopeful a deal will be struck either tonight or tomorrow and that they expect it to pass both chambers by the end of the week.
  • House Democrats don't expect to vote until Wednesday at the earliest.

Behind the scenes: Mnuchin and his staff have been in intense negotiations with aides to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi all weekend, and those talks will continue late into the night, according to three sources involved in the negotiations.

  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has joined those calls on occasion.
  • House and Senate Republicans have so far played a more outside role in the talks, instead relaying to Mnuchin and his team what they will and will not support.
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