June 3, 2020

White House and Democrats Near Deal on Aid for Small Businesses

Later on Sunday, Senators Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, and Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, announced what they described as “a major bipartisan breakthrough” to deliver funds to states and communities on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.

Their proposal would make counties and towns with 50,000 or more people eligible for federal dollars; the current population threshold is 500,000. The senators said they would introduce the plan when the Senate convened.

“Senator Menendez’s state and mine were hit hard by the Covid-19 epidemic,” Dr. Cassidy, a gastroenterologist, said in a statement, adding that the two “worked hard to make sure state and local governments can maintain essential services necessary for employees and employers to survive.”

That bipartisan effort stood in stark contrast to the partisan warfare that has enveloped the talks over the small-business aid since the start. On Sunday, Mr. Trump attacked Ms. Pelosi on Twitter as “an inherently ‘dumb’ person” and predicted that she would be “overthrown” as speaker, “either by inside or out.”

That capped a week that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill spent trading barbs. Republicans, who argued that there was no need to add money for hospitals and testing when it had not yet run out, accused Democrats of holding small businesses hostage while unemployment numbers soared.

“I cannot understand after watching another five million get unemployed how Speaker Pelosi continues to say no,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, said Thursday morning on a conference call with reporters.

Republicans have also expressed strong opposition to adding money for states and municipalities, saying Democrats have pushed for unrestricted funds, not related to the coronavirus, that would effectively subsidize bad fiscal decisions that occurred before the pandemic. That has been a red line for Republicans throughout the talks.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/19/us/politics/coronavirus-small-business-aid-congress.html

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