House prepares to vote on coronavirus aid package as soon as Wednesday
The House is preparing to vote as soon as Wednesday on a new coronavirus aid package as the White House and congressional negotiators near an agreement.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi backs remote voting for House The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Georges Benjamin says cutting WHO funds could be crime against humanity; COVID-19 cases surpass 2 million Hoyer: House eyeing possible Friday vote on next coronavirus bill MORE (D-Md.) said in a notice to members on Sunday that pending an agreement “the House could meet as early as Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. to consider that legislation.”
“Members are further advised that at this time, a recorded vote on the interim legislation is likely in the House this week. Members will be given sufficient notice about the exact timing of any votes and when they will need to return to Washington, DC,” Hoyer added in the notice to members.
The scheduling update is the latest sign that leadership and the administration is near an agreement on the “interim” bill, with a deal expected to be announced as soon as Sunday.
“I think we’re very close to agreement,” House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers express optimism about fourth coronavirus relief package Pelosi: Lawmakers ‘very close’ on bipartisan agreement for additional PPP funding Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in as US eyes phased reopening of economy MORE (D-Calif.) said during an interview with ABC News’s “This Week,” which aired on Sunday.
A senior Democratic aide told The Hill that Pelosi briefed House Democratic committee chairs on Sunday and that there were still four to five “outstanding issues.”
Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPelosi: Lawmakers ‘very close’ on bipartisan agreement for additional PPP funding Banks say they ran out of PPP funding ‘within minutes’ Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in as US eyes phased reopening of economy MORE told CNN’s “State of the Union” that they were making “a lot of progress” toward a deal. President TrumpDonald John TrumpWuhan lab denies claims of coronavirus origination Banks say they ran out of PPP funding ‘within minutes’ Trump defends testing capabilities, blasts critics during WH briefing MORE said during a daily coronavirus task force press conference on Sunday that he had just spoken with Mnuchin and “a lot of good negotiations” were happening.
“We’re getting close to a deal,” he told reporters. “I think you could have a nice answer tomorrow.”
If negotiators are able to reach a deal by Monday morning, the Senate could try to pass it as soon as Monday at 2 p.m., when they will next be in session, but any one member could slow that down.
Congressional aides told The Hill late Sunday afternoon that negotiations were ongoing.
But the contours of the deal, according to Mnuchin, include $300 billion for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing.
Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate battle hinges on four races Pelosi appoints Rep. Donna Shalala to coronavirus oversight panel McConnell rolls out GOP oversight efforts for coronavirus relief package MORE (R-Ky.) provided an update on Sunday to the Senate GOP caucus.
McConnell and Mnuchin told Republicans additional state and local government funding and a boost in food assistance funding, two demands from Democrats, will not be in any agreement, according to a senior GOP leadership aide.
Mnuchin also told Republicans that testing remained an open area and that he was working with McConnell and Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump turns to lawmakers to advise on reopening Trump taps members of Congress to advise on reopening Reopening economy emerges as new political battleground MORE (R-Tenn.) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTop Republican voices skepticism of rule change to allow remote voting On The Money: Millions wait for virus relief checks in major test for IRS | Senate misses deadline to replenish small-business loan program | Fresh produce goes to waste as coronavirus snarls supply chains Key senators negotiating potential deal to allow remote Senate hearings MORE (R-Mo.) to resolve those quickly so the package can pass the Senate as soon as possible, the aide added.
Hopes for an agreement comes as congressional leaders have been stalemated over the scope of a deal.
McConnell tried to pass $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans and grants to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, but was blocked by Democrats. The GOP leader similarly blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass a larger bill that would have included an extra $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments and a boost in food assistance funding.
But there were signs of momentum late last week when Trump told Senate Republicans that he could support adding other items onto a bill providing for more small business funds.
“I would hope, as he said on that call, that Democrats and Republicans can work together to find a solution here. And that may involve something in addition to just advancing the Paycheck Protection Plan, but that’s the plan that’s out of money,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, told reporters on Thursday.
Asked if Trump specifically said on the conference call that he was open to additional funds not related to the small business funding, Blunt said “yes.”
“Apparently the president is open to discussing another topic or two,” he added.
Juliegrace Brufke contributed.