Dems Stalemate Over New Virus Relief Fund

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement Monday morning about the next federal financial bailout package. This time around, Donald Trump has tried to hold the Democrats hostage unless his demands are met.

However, the Democrats have held their ground. They refused to agree to Trump’s terms unless there are additional funds for hospitals, food stamp recipients, and state and local governments. Trump wanted to go with just additional funds for small business loans.

The Democratic leaders offered to go with Trump’s request for small business loans, but they said his proposal needed to be part of a larger economic package. Pelosi and Schumer demanded $150 billion more for cities and states, $100 billion for hospitals and health-care systems, and a 15 percent increase in benefits for food stamp recipients.

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The Democratic leaders in Congress also stood firm against Trump’s claim that the U.S. could reopen its economic environment. They said, according to The Washington Post:

‘[T]here is still not enough testing available to realistically allow that to happen.’

Thus far, the Republicans have shown no desire to negotiate. As the U.S. economy continues to tank, coronavirus has been at the source of millions of newly unemployed Americans. The stalemate in Congress continues to harden.

Pelosi and Schumer’s statement said:

‘Small businesses, hospitals, frontline workers and state and local governments across the country are struggling to keep up with this national crisis. They need more help from the federal government and they need it fast — our nurses, doctors and health-care workers need it as much as anyone else.’

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The statement continued:

‘Further changes must also be made to the SBA’s assistance initiative, as many eligible small businesses continue to be excluded from the Paycheck Protection Program by big banks with significant lending capacity. Funding for Covid-19 SBA disaster loans and grants must be significantly increased to satisfy the hundreds of billions in oversubscribed demand.’

The Democrats wrote:

‘At the same time, strong additional support for hungry families and children relying on SNAP is needed. We cannot abandon those who are facing a life-and-death struggle to put food on the table.’

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When it is to the Republicans’ advantage, they can act quickly. Last month, they passed the largest bailout in the country’s history — a two -trillion-dollar package for large and small businesses, the unemployed, Americans, local governments, and healthcare systems.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to approve $250 billion in additional, forgivable funding last week. It included a $350 billion amount that would be added to the existing bailout program. The Paycheck Protection Program would have been run by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tried to ram the measure through the Senate without input from the Democrats on Thursday of last week. The Dems said “no,” unless the bill included $250 billion for additional priorities and changes to the small business program.

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