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Congress Stuns As They Near Agreement On Massive New Bill

Photo Via AP

President Trump announced on Sunday that Republicans were having “very good negotiations” with Democrats on expanding funding under the Paycheck Protection Program [PPP], suggesting that an agreement could come as soon as Monday.

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. A source familiar with the call told Fox News that Mnuchin said the open items were limited to the testing portion of the aid package.

At the beginning of the call, McConnell and Mnuchin touted the additional funding for PPP and reiterated the additional state and local government funding and demands from Democrats regarding funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP], also known as food stamps, will not be in the final package.

Secretary Mnuchin also said separately on Sunday in an interview with CNN that a bi-partisan deal is inching closer to replenish the fund.

Mnuchin told CNN that he hopes that the $450 billion package will be voted on in the Senate on Monday, and pass the House on Tuesday.

Mnuchin said the new bill in addition to replenishing the fund would also free up $100 billion for testing and hospitals.

Democrats have been the key component in stalling the addition of funds to a depleted $350 billion small business relief fund.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi justified that delay on Sunday by saying she wanted more funding for testing and hospitals – something Republicans never opposed.

In fact, President Trump also said on Sunday, “We’re looking to help hospitals, rural hospitals as part of the package.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Republicans and Democrats clashed on some key points about the new deal, but both sides have agreed to compromise.

“We’ve made very good progress,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, told CNN.

Schumer and Senate Democrats have been working directly with Mnuchin and the administration on their proposals for more funding in search of an agreement that will win the president’s support.

The Senate is away from Washington through May 4, though it convenes twice each week for pro forma sessions that could be used to pass more coronavirus aid — though only if no senator objects.

Nancy Pelosi told “Fox News Sunday” that there has been progress on reaching a deal, and that small businesses will see relief in the near future.

“They will have more money as soon as we come to an agreement – which will be soon,” she said. “And I think people will be very pleased because these small businesses must thrive in a community where they’re, again, health is essential to them opening up.”

Pressure to reopen the economy has increased amid astronomical jobless claims causing worried protestors to take to the streets in some places.

The Chinese virus has led to unprecedented shutdowns have led to disrupted economic, social, cultural and religious life, plunging the world into a strange deep economic slump comparable only to the Great Depression.

Tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs and millions more have worried they could be next.

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