Democrats Call for Interest-Free Loans for Small Businesses Affected by Coronavirus
The leaders of the Democratic Party in the Senate and House, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, respectively, have released a joint statement outlining their perspective on providing emergency funding to combat the coronavirus, otherwise known as covid-19. Among the provisions listed is a demand that “interest-free loans are made available for small businesses impacted by the outbreak.”
The statement comes at a point when the government has yet to confirm the amount of funds dedicated to treating and preparing against covid-19. Schumer has proposed devoting $8 billion, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that even $2 billion would be too little, opting instead for $4 billion. McCarthy has agreed with the Democrat leaders, saying that emergency funds should be not be stolen or transferred from other funds or emergency allotments. This position goes up against President Trump’s request for $1.25 billion from various existing funds, including $535 million from the Ebola preparedness fund.
Republican Senator Tom Cole expressed his uncertainty regarding the request, saying that “I just don’t think we should be penny-wise and pound-foolish on that.”
As well as calling for interest-free loans, the statement requests assurances that Trump will use the funds purely to fight covid-19 and other infectious diseases, that eventual vaccines will be available and affordable for all, and that state and local authorities will be reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response.
It is unsure whether or not these loans will actually come into play. While there does appear to be bipartisan cooperation within the House and Senate, the government seems to only have begun taking the virus seriously this week after it spread from China to Iran and Italy, and the first infection from an unknown source in America was diagnosed in California.
“We’re coming close to a bipartisan agreement in the Congress as to how we can go forward with a number that is a good start,” Pelosi told reporters in her weekly press conference. “We don’t know how much we will need. Hopefully, not so much more because prevention will work. But nonetheless, we have to be ready to do what we need to do.”Last modified: March 2, 2020