White House, Congress reach Consensus on programme to save small businesses amid pandemic

# 00:28
22 April 2020

The White House and Congress have reached an agreement on a deal that will allow a lending programme to be refilled with money for small American businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak along with the subsequent quarantines and cessation of business activities, The Hill and CNN reported separately, citing anonymous administration sources, APA reports citing Fox News.

While the details of the deal remain unclear, it will reportedly include $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Programme and for lending tens of billions dollars to help small firms make it through the pandemic. According to one prominent defender of the programme, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, some $125 million will go directly 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".

The reported agreement also includes funding for other types of aid, such as issuing $25 billion for carrying out COVID-19 tests and $75 billion more to support hospitals as they remain on the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Disagreements between the Democrats and the Republicans on the issue of coronavirus testing stalled negotiations on the bill, which was otherwise agreed upon. 

The full text of the bill to fill the programme with money will reportedly become available later in the day, with the Senate assembling for a pro forma session to pass it as soon as possible.

The reports of a new deal come as the federal programme to support American companies financially, the Paycheck Protection Programme (PPP), ran out of money last week. The programme also came under fire over imbalances caused by banks prioritising their existing clients and larger companies when providing loans under the PPP. The situation has resulted in many smaller firms ending up without money to get through the lockdowns imposed due to the pandemic.