President Trump and Republicans face tricky negotiations in the days ahead over additional small business relief.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, working with the Trump administration, has called for passing, on Thursday, an additional $250 billion in forgivable loans for small businesses, to add to the $350 billion included in the “phase three” coronavirus relief bill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, though, demanded Wednesday that the bill also include their own priorities, more than doubling the cost.
In addition to the small business funding, they are seeking $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments, and a 15% increase in food stamp benefits.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn told Democrats to give up the fight, calling it a “shameful threat” to hold up the legislation. GOP members hoped to pass legislation to bail out small businesses on Thursday by unanimous vote, which would eliminate the need for roll call vote and debate. One senator could derail the entire effort by objecting, and Congress is out of session until April 20 at the earliest.
“I think we have a pretty good understanding with the Democrats,” President Trump said Wednesday evening at the White House coronavirus press briefing. “Hopefully, it’s going to be bipartisan.”
“We do not have the time for the partisan games,” he said. “We don’t want that, the obstruction.”
McConnell said Wednesday night that he would go to the Senate floor Thursday morning to try to pass the bill.
I hope none of my colleagues object to my request for these urgently-needed funds. There is no reason why this bipartisan job-saving program should be held hostage for other priorities. Let’s re-fund the only program that’s already running dry and keep moving forward together.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) April 9, 2020
To reach Trump’s desk, however, the Democratic House would have to also approve the legislation.
To provide relief, in addition to the billions set aside for small businesses, the legislation already signed by Trump qualifies middle and working-class families for an additional $600 in unemployment benefits, as well as a relief check from the government for $1,200 per adult. A record number of people have applied for unemployment benefits in the past month and now struggle to cover the cost of housing.
According to data from landlord trade group the National Multifamily Housing Council, as well as a consortium of real estate data distributors, only about 69% of tenants paid their landlords rent in April, in contrast to 81% who paid in March.
Many renters are immune from eviction, thanks to a patchwork of state and local laws. Analysts fear, however, that unpaid rent could create a ripple effect that can cause landlords to default on their mortgages and hurt the mortgage bond market.
Nevertheless, U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, adding to major gains this week, as investors reacted to a smattering of positive news related to the pandemic and, some said, Bernie Sanders dropping his bid to be the Democratic presidential contender.
The Vermont senator cited the pandemic in dropping out of the presidential race Wednesday. “As I see the crisis gripping the nation,” Sanders said, “I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the work required of all of us in this difficult hour.” Neither Sanders nor Joe Biden has been able to hold in-person campaign events to rally support during primary elections.
The Dow Jones Industrial average closed up 3.4% or over 700 points higher. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite also closed higher, 3.4% and 2.6%, respectively.
On the week, the Dow is up by more than a quarter.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedro Adhanom Ghebreyesus responded to Trump’s criticism of the WHO for being “China-centric,” saying that unless world leaders “behave,” the death toll will rise. The virus has killed nearly 90,000 people globally.
“We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave,” he said.
Trump, on Wednesday evening, declined to say straightforwardly that the United States would cut funding for the WHO or otherwise escalate the conflict. He did say, though, that “we’re going to do a study, an investigation, and we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re doing.”
The post Trump and Democrats jostle over small business pandemic relief appeared first on Washington Examiner.