Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday a deal has been reached on a nearly $500 billion deal that will expand coronavirus testing and continue helping small businesses,. He expected the Senate would pass it later in the day.
Schumer told CNN that he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, acting Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were negotiating the bill until well past midnight, and "we came to an agreement on just about every issue."
"There are still a few more I's to dot and T's to cross, but we have a deal, and I believe we'll pass it today," said the New York Democrat. "I know Mnuchin and Meadows were in good touch with (Senate Majority Leader (Mitch) McConnell and with the president as we went through this. So, yes, I believe we have a deal, and I believe that we will pass it this afternoon at 4 p.m."
Democrats had been pushing for a national testing plan, and not just $30 billion for testing, and they are sticking with that demand, said Schumer.
"This is one of the last things that we had to hold out for," said Schumer. "We do believe the states need money. We do believe as the president and the governors do that it is a partnership, but we need a national strategy. As the governors have said, to get the kinds of testing that is done, to get the contact tracing, to make the tests free, you need a significant federal involvement, you need a national strategy, and the president and Mnuchin and Meadows agreed to that, to their credit. And will be in the proposal."
Schumer said Democrats also held out for guidelines for loans that will send the money to small businesses, not companies that are publicly traded or worth more than $100 million, which is what happened in the first round of loans.
"We got $125 billion that will go exclusively to the unbanked, to the minorities, to the rural areas, and to all of those little mom and pop stores that don't have a good banking connection and need the help," said Schumer.
The bill also increases money not only for testing, but adds another $75 billion for hospitals.
"The one place that we regretted, Republican opponents opposed, was more money for states and localities, but we did get a commitment from the White House that they would be able to use those funds for lost revenues," said Schumer. "That's one of the major demands that the governors and mayors had, because as you know, the revenues are declining," said Schumer.
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