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Pelosi, Schumer push wider emergency coronavirus funding bill

08 Apr 2020 Reuters

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a signing ceremony after the House of Representatives approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday said they would back the Trump administration’s request for another $250 billion in aid for small businesses amid the coronavirus outbreak, but said the bill must include more funding for hospitals, local governments and food assistance.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, in a statement, said Congress would then have to work on passing another measure aimed at further expanding relief after the interim emergency funding bill passed.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the request for additional aid for small companies on Tuesday amid overwhelming demand for federal small business loans as stores shuttered and Americans sheltered at home in an effort to quell the spread of the fast-spreading disease.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican who initially had been skeptical of the need for more U.S. funding, on Tuesday said he would seek to pass the additional funds on Thursday.

Pelosi, who leads the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, and Schumer said $125 billion of the $250 billion in small business aid must be allocated to community banks that serve farmers and nonprofit organizations as well as minority, women and veteran-owned companies.

The bill must also include $100 billion for hospitals and other health care facilities, $150 billion for U.S. states and local governments, and a 15% increase for federal nutrition program benefits, they said.

A follow up measure must then be tackled to “provide transformational relief as the American people weather this assault on their lives and livelihoods,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Zieminski

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