Tuesday, 21 April 2020 22:58

What's in the Nearly $500 Billion Deal to Protect Small Business from Coronavirus Fallout

Written by Ben Werschkul, Yahoo! Finance


On April 19, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new funding “should be sufficient to reach almost everybody,” but many are wondering how quickly this next round of funding will run out as thousands of small businesses still wait for approval.


Early in the negotiations, Republicans wanted additional money for the PPP only, without any changes to the program or funding for other things. Democrats supported the money for the PPP but held up the deal so they could secure additional provisions.


In interviews, Schumer noted Democrats got changes in how the PPP actually works.


On April 21, he said on CNN that Democrats insisted a chunk of the additional PPP money “be separate from the competition with the bigger companies." He said, in contrast to how the PPP operated previously, money will be set aside to "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."


The program has come under criticism after large restaurant chains like Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Shake Shack and Potbelly Sandwich Shop all received loans while others missed out.


Billions for testing and a possible ‘national testing strategy’


The most contentious part of negotiations were the provisions over testing.


The Trump administration has been at odds with Democrats and governors as the president has often insisted that testing is each individual state’s responsibility. Governors have often instead called for more involvement from the federal government.


In an interview April 20, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the the president to “stop misrepresenting about the testing.”


Schumer, on the Senate floor on April 21 announcing the deal, said the bill is a “down payment on a national testing regime,” and it’s now “up to the administration to implement a national testing strategy” as part of the process of disbursing the funds.


The plan includes $25 billion that will, according to the bill text, help “research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests.” The money will be divided between states and federal agencies.


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited Trump at the White House on April 21 and said testing was the focus of his trip.