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There May Be Another Coronavirus Bill for Small Business and Unemployment

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There May Be Another Coronavirus Bill for Small Business and Unemployment

2020-04-07 17:34:55

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Nancy Pelosi (Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Before you even get the promised stimulus check that's been promised to you, Congress and Donald Trump are considering passing more legislation to provide more income to Americans while also providing more for small businesses and the unemployed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talked to other Democratic lawmakers on a call Monday regarding passing additional aid legislation that she allowed could "easily" cost more than $1 trillion after the $2.2 trillion legislation was just passed a few weeks back. According to two officials who were on the conference call, the goal is to extend the assistance even longer than what was already legislated. 

Donald Trump has indicated he backs some of the Democrats' ideas, such as providing more help for small business and additional checks for taxpayers. Republican leaders would like to see more corporate aid and help for health care.

There has been a surge in Small Business Administration loan requests that has overwhelmed the system, and the Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.627 points, or 7.7 percent, on Monday to go along with hopes that the coronavirus pandemic may have reached its peak. 

Democrats are looking at wider-ranging relief for hospitals, health-care workers, farmers, first responders, education programs, and more. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) led other Democrats in a proposal for $250 billion in aid for smaller cities and communities where the assistance hasn't reached them yet. Congressional Republicans have demanded the new small-business loan program be expanded, aid that Trump agrees with.

Pelosi is letting some of her recent requests go that Republicans were against, including a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) believes Congress will have to provide more legislation to address health care. The two spoke last Thursday. 

"All I can tell you is I think we're going to definitely need" another rescue bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Monday. "And I think it's going to have to be big and bold because the problem is so huge."

There are signs that the economy is eroding more quickly than expected and that the stimulus package that was passed will not be enough.  

Former Federal Reserve chair Janet L. Yellen told Pelosi on the conference call about a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday that showed the actual unemployment rate is probably 13 percent and not 4.4 percent. Yellen believes new unemployment claims this week will top last week's 6.6 million.

Bank of America reported on Monday that 178,000 applications were received from companies looking for $32.9 billion in loans from the $349 billion Small Business Administration program. Wells Fargo didn't even start taking applications until Saturday, and by Monday it had reached the $10 billion cap. The Fed initiated a system for banks to offload assets so they could tackle more loans. 

Goldman Saches projected that the leap in new spending, along with the drop in tax revenue, would push the federal budget deficit to $3.7 trillion in 2020 after prior estimates had predicted $1 trillion. JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon predicted in his annual letter that the economic fallout will lead to a "bad recession" comparable to the 2008 recession.

Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) office believes the lending budget for small businesses in the $2 trillion Cares act passed last month will be depleted before it is set to expire June 30. "It is clear that Congress will need to appropriate additional money," he said. 

Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Sunday: "The acceleration of the coronavirus crisis demands that we continue to legislate." She added, "We must double down on the downpayment we made in the Cares Act by passing a Cares 2 package, which will extend and expand this bipartisan legislation to meet the needs of the American people."

"While I'm very much in favor of doing some of the things that we need to do to meet the needs — clean water, more broadband, and the rest of that — that may have to be for a bill beyond this," said the house speaker in a Friday interview. "Right now, I think that we have a good model — it was bipartisan, it was signed by the president, but it's not enough." 

"If we do more, we're going to do more. Were going to try and get directly to people that are hit so hard," said Trump Sunday. "But we're going to take care of our citizens. We're going to take care of our small business. We're going to take care of our large businesses, the airplane industry, the airline industry, a lot of industries that we have that are in trouble."

Lawmakers are considering helping local governments, as that wasn't provided for in the Cares Act. $159 billion is in the Cares Act for states and local communities with more than 500,000 residents. Smaller, less populated areas aren't eligible for part of that. 

Neguse and others want to set aside $250 billion for smaller jurisdictions on the next bill. "It does not matter what political affiliation you might have or whether you live in a big city or a small city, the virus at the end of the day is impacting all of us as Americans," said Neguse.

"There are cities across our country, counties, that are going to be in very dire economic circumstances very soon if the Congress does not step up to the plate." 

A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said lawmakers need to assess what's working, what's not working, anybody falling through the cracks."

Just as important as what will be in the bill is how it will be passed. The House and Senate aren't in session because of the worries of COVID-19 and don't want to return. To pass legislation without being present, leadership in both the House and Senate and of both parties would have to get unanimous agreement from all members of Congress. With the Cares Act, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) insisted on a recorded vote.  

The Week of April 20 has been tentatively set aside for votes, but aides say the legislative schedule is dependent on what happens with the pandemic.

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