Democrats and Republicans still cannot agree on a proposal to replenish a rapidly shrinking fund to help small businesses stay open.
A pro-forma session of the Senate gaveled in and out quickly on Monday without lawmakers attempting to pass the measure, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said is urgently needed to keep the program operating during the outbreak.
Mnuchin is seeking $250 billion in additional federal funding for the Paycheck Protection Act. The Dems want an additional $100 billion for hospitals to be added to the measure, $150 billion for state and local governments, as well as a 15% increase in food stamp benefits.
“We have real problems facing this country, and it’s time for the Republicans to quit the political posturing by proposing bills they know will not pass either chamber and get serious and work with us towards a solution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement Monday.
The Dems are also demanding money in the small business fund be set aside specifically for small businesses that have traditionally had difficulty obtaining loans, as the Washington Examiner reported.
“These are commonsense policies that everyone, Democrats and Republicans, can get behind,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey said on C-SPAN. “I hope that Republicans will come to their senses and move this package at once.”
Republicans accuse the Dems of blocking a critical bill with unnecessary spending. The $150 billion in funding for state and local governments, and $117 billion for hospitals that was provided in a $2.2 trillion measure signed into law on March 28, has yet to run out, they said.
“Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. “This will not be Congress’s last word on COVID-19, but this crucial program needs funding now. American workers cannot be used as political hostages.”