After days of tense negotiations and insults hurled back and forth, House and Senate Democratic leaders and the Trump administration have reached agreement on a $484 billion package that will, among other things, replenish the empty small business fund set up by the last coronavirus stimulus bill for companies with fewer than 500 employees to keep afloat and maintain their payrolls. The fund ran out of money last week, its $349 billion almost instantly committed to existing bank customers given the first whack at applying. Republicans wanted to just toss more money into it, but Democrats succeeded in some modifications and add-ons, as Axios reports:
The vast majority of the funds — $310 billion — is for replenishing the PPP, which dried up last week. Roughly $60 billion of that total will be allocated to small lenders and community banks. The rest includes …
$60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, which reaches communities and small businesses in underserved areas; $75 billion for hospitals; [and] $25 billion to expand testing.
According to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who was the first to announce a deal, the testing money will be deployed via a national strategy, which was a key Democratic demand.
Democrats failed to secure more money for hard-pressed state and local governments in this round of stimulus legislation, though the agreement did let states use remaining portions of the $150 billion allocated for state and local coronavirus response in the first bill to be utilized to replace lost revenues. In addition, in endorsing the package, the president called for including states and localities in the next round of relief legislation, which is universally expected to happen before long:
In fact, the next deal may be triggered by another shortfall in the same loan program, as Roll Call notes:
The new loan program funds could run out nearly as fast as the previously approved funding, which lasted about 14 days. That will likely put a timer on Congress’ efforts to negotiate a larger, more sweeping aid package that Republicans, Democrats and the Trump administration all agree is needed.
The relief package was approved by a voice vote (with Rand Paul apparently opposing it but not standing in the way) in a pro forma Senate session this afternoon. The House is expected to go along on Thursday in a recorded roll call vote.