The Senate did not reach a deal on the next coronavirus relief bill in time for a brief Monday session, but set up a vote as soon as Tuesday afternoon to replenish a key small business aid program.
Congressional Democrats have held discussions with the Treasury Department on the next package to rescue an economy and health care system ravaged by the global pandemic. On Sunday, negotiators signaled they had come closer to a deal that could include $370 billion in loan programs for small businesses, designed to keep employees on payroll as businesses across the country shutter. It may also include $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing — but not money for state and local governments that Democrats sought.
The $350 billion allocated to a relief program for small firms in last month’s $2 trillion stimulus package dried up last week, though it is unclear how much of that money has actually gone to companies so far.
“At this hour, our Democratic colleagues are still prolonging their discussions with the administration, so the Senate regretfully will not be able to pass more funding for Americans’ paychecks today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said during the pro forma session Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, speaks during a news conference after a weekly caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
He said the Senate would meet again at 4 p.m. Tuesday to try to pass legislation to replenish the program.
The House will convene as early as Wednesday to consider an emergency bill, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office said Sunday. The Democratic-held chamber expects a recorded vote, which requires representatives currently in their districts to return to Washington.
Some members of the party’s more liberal wing have started to oppose the emerging deal.
Last week, the GOP-held Senate tried to pass a bill to inject $250 billion more into the small business program, which can be forgiven if companies meet certain conditions for using money on payroll, benefits, rent and utilities. The funds allocated last month dried up quickly, leaving many firms that applied for relief in limbo.
Democrats blocked the GOP bill. Republicans then rejected a Democratic counter proposal that included funding for hospitals and state and local governments.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also argued for more funds for community-based lenders and Small Business Administration disaster assistance loans and grants. They argued the small business relief plans as structured left out people who did not have an established banking relationship.
The developing deal would put $60 billion toward relief for rural and minority-owned businesses, and another $60 billion into the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
— CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch contributed to this report