White House, Democrats ‘very close’ to deal to aid virus-hit businesses

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: The White House and congressional Democrats say they could reach agreement soon on expanding funds to small businesses devastated by the coronavirus, with Democrats hoping to add money for hospitals, testing and state governments.

“We’re very close,” US Vice President Mike Pence tells talk show “Fox News Sunday” about negotiations on replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program whose entire $349 billion funding was exhausted by last Thursday.

“We’re going to work to expand that so that no one working in a small business in America would have to worry about missing a paycheck.”

US President Donald Trump has insisted his administration will do right by millions of American families and businesses ravaged by a pandemic that has infected 735,000 people in the United States, 39,000 of whom have died.

Treasury Secretary St-even Mnuchin expresses hope a deal could be reac-hed and passed by Congr-ess in the coming days.

“I think we’re very close to a deal today,” Mnuchin tells CNN’s “State of the Union,” as he put forward a new target number of $300 billion, beyond the $250 billion under discussion last week.

Mnuchin says the White House has also agreed to add $75 billion to hospitals and first responders, and $25 billion to ramp up virus testing — clear wins for Democrats. (AFP)