Bipartisan optimism on new aid package

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Bipartisan optimism on new aid package

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers were very close to an agreement on more coronavirus aid, which includes replenishing a recently exhausted small business relief fund.

“We’re close,” Pelosi said in an intereview that aired Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Again, we have common ground … I think we’re very close to agreement.”

Her remarks were echoed on morning TV shows by other leaders on both sides of the aisle, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Vice President Mike Pence.

Mnuchin said that he has been in contact with GOP congressional leaders and spoke with Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning. He hopes to see the agreement pass the Senate on Monday and the House on Tuesday.

"We’re all on board with the same plan," he said on CNN’s "State of the Union."

Saying “our staffs are meeting 24/7,” Schumer echoed Pelosi and Mnuchin, saying on CNN that he was "very hopeful" an agreement will be struck Sunday night or early Monday morning.

"Many of the things we have asked for on the banking side, on the testing side, on the hospital side, they’re going along with," Schumer told host Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.“ "So we feel pretty good. We still have a few more issues to deal with."

Pence also expressed optimism. “The negotiations are going on, we are very close,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Small Business Administration on Thursday announced the $ 350 billion Paycheck Protection Program wouldn’t accept any more applications, shutting out thousands of potential borrowers looking for aid during the pandemic.

Pelosi said businesses will have their relief in a “timely fashion,” but also noted, “We know that we have an opportunity and an urgency to do something for our hospitals, our teachers, and firefighters, and the rest right now. And then we are preparing for our next bill.”

Congress has faced pressure to pass PPP funding unanimously, as soon as possible. That pressure has mounted with reports that more than 22 million Americans have lost their jobs over four weeks. But Democrats want some of the money to be set aside for communities with few banking institutions. And they’ve pushed for more money for state governments, local governments and hospitals.

After a partisan standoff, multiple sources in both parties said Saturday that notable progress had been made on brokering a tentative deal. The terms center on $ 250 billion or more for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as roughly $ 75 billion for hospitals.

Over the last 48 hours, President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked Pelosi and “Do Nothing Democrats," asserting they are costing Americans jobs by blocking new PPP funds.

"Nancy Pelosi is blocking it. She sits in her house in San Francisco, overlooking the ocean, and she doesn’t want to come back. She doesn’t want to come back," Trump said at his Saturday coronavirus briefing.

On Sunday, Pelosi brushed his comments aside: “I don’t pay that much attention to the president’s tweets against me. As I’ve said, he’s a poor leader. He’s always trying to avoid responsibility and assign blame.”

She called the president’s embrace of opening up the country quickly a distraction from the fact that Trump did not act appropriately on testing, treatment, contact tracing and quarantine.

Pelosi said everything Congress has done on pandemic relief, the three bills put forward in March, were bipartisan — and bipartisan is how things will stay.

She is open to the idea of proxy voting, a change suggested by House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that would be temporary and likely only apply to emergency coronavirus legislation. Pelosi said there would need to be a vote to change House rules, which should also be done in a bipartisan fashion.

“We have a template. We’ve done it once. We can do it again.”

Zachary Warmbrodt contributed to this article.


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