Mnuchin, U.S. Congress leaders to hold new talks on next coronavirus aid bill

By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders will hold bipartisan negotiations on a new coronavirus-response bill with the goal of reaching a deal by early next week, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday

Reuters April 11, 2020 00:12:29 IST
Mnuchin, U.S. Congress leaders to hold new talks on next coronavirus aid bill

Mnuchin US Congress leaders to hold new talks on next coronavirus aid bill

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders will hold bipartisan negotiations on a new coronavirus-response bill with the goal of reaching a deal by early next week, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday.

One day after Republicans failed to ram through the Senate a $250 billion increase in loans for small businesses suffering from closures due to the coronavirus outbreak, Schumer said in a statement that he had a "constructive" conversation with Mnuchin.

Democrats support the $250 billion in new funding but want to set aside some of the lending for community and minority-owned banks.

Besides the small-business funding, Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi are seeking another funding stream of more than $250 billion. It would be dedicated to helping hospitals dealing with surges in patients infected with coronavirus and aid to state and local governments, along with expanded food aid for the poor.

Democrats are calling this an "interim" bill for Congress to approve before moving onto a potentially broader measure to further help the U.S. economy recover from a massive increase in unemployment and business slowdowns as Americans cloister themselves at home until the virus is under control.

"There’s no reason why we can’t come to a bipartisan agreement by early next week," Schumer said of the interim measure.

The bipartisan talks come despite President Donald Trump earlier on Friday saying that the small-business loans should be the only funding addressed in the next bill to move through Congress.

"It should be for only that reason, with no additions. We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more. Big Economic Bounceback!" Trump said in a Twitter post.

The $250 billion in small-business loans, which could turn into government-paid grants if lenders meet certain terms, would be in addition to $349 billion already allocated by Congress.

Also on Friday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said he introduced legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to look into the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak. The commission would be modeled after one created in 2002 following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Some critics have said Trump was slow to react to the coronavirus outbreak, which in turn may have delayed widespread availability of tests for the virus and medical supplies.

Last month, Mnuchin led the Trump administration's negotiations with congressional leaders on initial coronavirus aid bills, including the $2.3 trillion economic stimulus measure enacted into law on March 27.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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