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White House, congressional leaders reach aid deal

WASHINGTON — The White House and congressional leaders reached agreement Tuesday on a $484 billion deal to replenish a small business loan program that’s been overrun by demand and also boost spending for hospitals and coronavirus testing.

The Senate swiftly approved the measure Tuesday afternoon and the House of Representatives is slated to consider it on Thursday.

President Trump said he would sign it into law.

‘‘I urge the Senate and House to pass the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act with additional funding for PPP, Hospitals, and Testing,’’ he wrote on Twitter, adding a number of other issues he’d like to address in a future round of negotiations.


The $484 billion legislation would increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by $310 billion, boost a separate small business emergency grant and loan program by $60 billion, and direct $75 billion to hospitals and $25 billion to a new coronavirus testing program.

The new legislation would come on top of a record $2 trillion coronavirus rescue law Congress passed late last month, which created a $349 billion small business forgivable loan program aimed at keeping workers on payroll. The White House said the small business initiative ran out of money last week amid overwhelming demand as the economy cratered and millions were laid off.

‘‘The American people are counting on Congress to put aside reflexive partisanship and work across the aisle to help our nation through this pandemic,’’ Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, said Tuesday.

In a joint statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat from California, and Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democat, hailed the deal.

‘‘Congressional Democrats are proud to have secured an agreement on an interim emergency funding package that has been transformed to provide real support for the lives and livelihoods of the American people,’’ Pelosi and Schumer said.


The new agreement followed two weeks of rancorous stalemate and partisan sniping after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked Congress to add $251 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program with no strings attached. Democrats refused, holding out for money for hospitals and testing — which they got — as well as funding for cities and states, which Republicans refused to agree to.

But there are already signs that the $310 billion set aside for the program still might not be enough to meet surging demand for the loans. PNC Bank has told customers that there might not be enough capacity in the program to fund all loan requests, and says any changes dictated by the White House or Congress could further complicate matters.

Schumer said that he, Pelosi, Mnuchin, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were on the phone ‘‘well past midnight’’ and that ‘‘we came to an agreement on just about every issue.’’

The deal had been on the verge of completion for several days, but Democrats and Trump administration officials have been wrangling over final details, including the design of the new $25 billion coronavirus testing program. Democrats were pushing for a national approach as Republicans sought more flexibility for states.

The final agreement seems to strike a balance, requiring plans from states and localities on how they will utilize the testing funds, and also requiring a strategic plan on providing assistance to states for increasing testing and testing capacity.


Of the new money designated for the program, $60 billion would be reserved for lending by small and medium sized financial institutions.

Provisions are including requiring participation by lending institutions serving minority or underserved areas, such as Community Financial Development Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions, language sought by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and others.

An additional $11 billion is included for administrative costs, meaning the total program spending in the bill is $321 billion.

Democrats failed to convince Republicans to allocate more money for states and localities.

But Schumer said they’d gotten a commitment from the White House that cities and states could use $150 billion allocated in the earlier $2 trillion Cares Act to offset some of the lost revenue in their budgets. That money was initially designed to address each state’s coronavirus response.