All finance news

Coronavirus updates: Pelosi and Schumer call for Congress relief bill

0 15

  • Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are calling for at least $500 billion in spending in an emergency stopgap coronavirus relief bill. 
  • They back $250 billion more in small business loans, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aims to pass Thursday, but also want to add funding for hospitals and state and local governments. 
  • The legislation is separate from a bill they want to see to expand major parts of the CARES Act, the $2 trillion package Congress passed last month. 

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (L) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (R) hold a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 22, 2019, following a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House.Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The top Democrats in Congress pushed for an "interim" emergency coronavirus bill on Wednesday to include at least $500 billion in relief for small businesses, hospitals, states and food assistance programs. 

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer supported another $250 billion in loans to small companies — a sum the Trump administration has requested and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell aims to pass through the Senate on Thursday. It would add to the $350 billion in aid approved as part of the $2 trillion emergency package passed last month. The Trump administration has reported high demand for the loans. 

Democrats want the stopgap legislation to go further as the coronavirus pandemic rips across the country, stretching health-care resources and state budgets and shutting down schools and businesses. Pelosi and Schumer called for: 

  • $250 billion in small business loans, with $125 billion going to community lenders
  • $100 billion to bolster hospitals and community health centers, with funds going toward the production of coronavirus tests and protective medical equipment 
  • $150 billion for state and local governments (some officials such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is managing the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, said the last congressional bill did not do enough for states battling coronavirus)
  • A 15% increase to the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit 

The Democratic leaders described the bill as separate from one they aim to pass to expand the provisions of the CARES Act. The federal government has only started to implement the $2 trillion package, the largest emergency spending plan in U.S. history. 

"After we pass this interim emergency legislation, Congress will move to pass a CARES 2 Act that will extend and expand the bipartisan CARES Act to meet the needs of the American people," Pelosi and Schumer said. "CARES 2 must provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods."

VIDEO16:3016:30Full interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on next steps in coronavirus responseSquawk on the Street

On Tuesday, McConnell said he would try to pass the additional small business funding by unanimous consent or voice vote during the Senate's pro forma session on Thursday. In a statement, he did not mention any other provisions he wants to see in the bill. 

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, said Wednesday that McConnell put forward a unanimous consent agreement to introduce and pass by voice vote a measure to inject $250 billion into the small business program. 

"Any Senator objecting is asked to do so by noon today. Hope for the best," he wrote in a tweet. 

Any one senator can stop legislation from passing by unanimous consent. The Democratic-held House could also vote down legislation even if the Senate approves it. 

A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request to comment on whether the Kentucky Republican would consider adding any of the Democrats' priorities to the proposal this week. 

In response to the Democrats' request to fund health care and states, a Trump administration official said "continuing to focus on the need to help small businesses right now would be a help."

Congress is out of Washington as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the country. The U.S. now has roughly 400,000 COVID-19 cases, and the disease has been linked to at least 12,911 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

It has also devastated the economy. About 10 million people filed new unemployment claims over a two-week period, and the U.S. lost 701,000 jobs in early March — before the biggest wave of business shutdowns. 

The CARES Act passed last month included direct payments to individuals, enhanced unemployment insurance, small business loans, health-care funding and a $500 billion pool of loans and grants for corporations and states.

Pelosi has called for another round of checks to individuals and to extend the unemployment benefits for two more months. 

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

two × 5 =