WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that they would not back down from their demands over an interim coronavirus relief bill in Congress, continuing a standoff with Republicans on the additional aid.
In a joint statement, the pair of Democratic leaders said the measure must include money for hospitals and states, support for families who rely on food stamps and aid to small businesses that they say are currently excluded from a government program.
“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,” they said.
The funding included in the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law last month, which was the third installment of coronavirus relief from Congress, “will not be enough to cover the tremendous need,” they said.
Pelosi and Schumer said further changes must be made to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program because many eligible small businesses are being excluded by big banks. They're also seeking to direct some of the proposed increase in funding for the program, which provides forgivable loans to cover things like payroll and overhead, to small businesses owned by families, women, minorities and veterans.
“Funding for Covid-19 SBA disaster loans and grants must be significantly increased to satisfy the hundreds of billions in oversubscribed demand,” they said.
The impasse comes after the Trump administration requested that Congress pass $250 billion in emergency funding for the small-business loan program, and Democrats responded with their proposal outlining their additional demands. Senate Republicans, however, failed to pass the original GOP proposal by unanimous consent last week and then promptly blocked the Democrats’ alternative plan.
On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a joint statement that they weren’t interested in negotiating.
“Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril,” they said.
Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement Monday that Republicans must stop their “political posturing” in offering legislation that they know won’t pass either chamber.
The Democratic leaders also suggested that the U.S. is nowhere near a situation where the country can reopen, saying, "there is still not enough testing available to realistically allow that to happen."