Senate eyes Thursday action on billions more in funding for small businesses
But the move could meet opposition in the House, where Democratic leaders are resistant to piecemeal extensions, according to multiple sources. In addition to new small business money, Democrats could push for additional money for state and local governments and an expansion of unemployment benefits for several more months, according to those sources.
And a spokesman for Schumer said there’s been no negotiations thus far with Schumer and Small Business Committee ranking members Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
“Senator Schumer has not heard from Senator McConnell, and Senator Cardin has not heard from Senator Rubio,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer.
The divergent statements from Democratic and Republicans shows how quickly the congressional response is shifting amid the pandemic. But without quick action, Rubio warned that fear would wrack small businesses that are applying for the oversubscribed program.
“We have days, NOT weeks to address this,” Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Twitter.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday and that Mnuchin will soon make a formal request to Congress.
“Following the Senate’s approval, the House should move swiftly to do the same and provide confidence to small businesses across the country that their government will be there for them,” McCarthy said.
And the Trump administration will get to hash out the unfolding crisis and the congressional response as the week unfolds. House Democrats will receive a coronavirus briefing from Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials on Wednesday, a rare moment of bipartisanship between the House majority and an administration it is often battling.
The briefing will be conducted via conference call and will last about 45 minutes, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. In addition to Pence, other key officials leading the coronavirus response will join, including Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx and Rear Adm. John Polowczyk.
Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller tweeted that the vice president would also do calls with House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans on Thursday. Senate Republicans also spoke to Fauci and Mnuchin last week in a conference call.
A major topic of the briefing is expected to be efforts by federal officials to deliver desperately needed personal protective equipment to states whose hospitals are being crushed by an influx of coronavirus patients.
Polowczyk has been leading the effort at the federal level, coordinating a fleet of cargo planes to bring face masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators from overseas to help replenish rapidly depleting U.S. supplies. But the overall effort has been beset by bureaucratic roadblocks, miscommunication and charges of political favoritism by state leaders.