Trump hints at Monday resolution for latest coronavirus relief package

By Jason Schaumburg | The Center Square

President Donald Trump said Sunday negotiations with Democrats continue on another coronavirus relief package to replenish funding for small business loans, also known as the Paycheck Protection Program.

“We’re getting close to a deal,” Trump said during the daily coronavirus task force briefing. “It could happen. A lot of good work has been going on, and we could have an answer [Monday].”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Sunday on CNN the outline of an agreement included $300 billion to replenish PPP, $75 billion for hospitals, $50 billion for the Small Business Administration’s disaster relief fund and $25 billion for testing.

SBA, which administers the PPP loans, said Thursday it had run out of the $349 billion it was given through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act for small business loans. SBA said it had provided more than 1.7 million loans through nearly 5,000 lenders.

The loans can be fully forgiven if they are used for payroll costs, existing interest payments on mortgages, rent payments, leases and utility agreements.

Trump confirmed Sunday that the next package would provide relief for rural hospitals.

“We’re also looking at helping our hospitals and our rural hospitals, who have been hurt very badly,” Trump said. “The rural hospitals for a long time have not been treated properly. We’re looking to help them.”

Trump also said the U.S. has tested 4.18 million Americans for COVID-19. He said Vice President Mike Pence will have a call Monday with the country’s governors to review and develop locally tailored testing strategies.

“Many governors are still relying on their state laboratories rather than the full and much larger capacity that is available to them,” Trump said. “As an example, commercial laboratories such as Quest and LabCorp, these are massive laboratories that can handle a lot more than they are being sent.”

Many governors have been asking for more help from the federal government when it comes to coronavirus testing and supplies for the testing. Governors see increased testing as one of the ways to reopen states’ economies.

“Some people believe in testing very strongly, and other people believe in it less strongly, but still it’s a very good thing to have,” Trump said. “… I believe if they want it, we should give it to them and get it for them and work with them.

“You must remember that the governors wanted to have total control over the opening of their states, but now they want to have us, the federal government, do the testing,” Trump said. “And, again, testing is local. You can’t have it both ways. Testing is a local thing.”