The possibility of a fourth COVID-19 relief package becoming reality appears to be improving as Congressional leaders have entered into talks with the Trump Administration on what such a bill might look like.
According to reports, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, as well as Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, who sits on the Small Business Committee, are in negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on the possibility of passing a new package later this month.
At the same time, in discussing passage of the $250 billion initiative for the country’s small businesses, members have become embroiled in debates over aspects of that legislature, prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to declare: “The country cannot afford unnecessary wrangling or political maneuvering.”
One of the reasons providing fuel to the argument for a fourth relief bill is how quickly the $350 billion included in the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act legislation is being used.
So far, more than $90 billion of that figure has been spent on small business loans.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio remarked that small businesses across the country are worried that the relief funds may soon run out.
“The program needs more funding to meet the demands of small and medium sized businesses due to the pandemic,” Rubio said in a statement.
New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has said that he would like to see the legislation also include funding in the form of a pay hike for nurses, emergency technicians, and other who are regarded as frontline workers in the COVID-19 outbreak.
Udall said the country owed such workers “more than just words of gratitude.”
“We must make sure they are paid what they deserve,” Udall said in in a statement released by his office.
The bill, which may additionally include funding for hospitals as well as an expansion of the federal government’s food assistance programs, is expected to be taken up by both houses of Congress in a matter of days.
By Garry Boulard
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