Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said lawmakers would vote on a small businesses loan program to help firms damaged by the coronavirus pandemic, but the prospects for approval are dim.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress remain locked in a prolonged disagreement over how much additional stimulus is needed to support the economy, with Democrats holding out for a larger, broader package than the narrowly-focused measure McConnell proposed.

The Republican leader said senators would vote on adding more money to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to small businesses but ran out of money in August.

“Republicans do not agree that nothing is better than something for working families,” McConnell said, without saying how much the proposal would cost.

“The American people need Democrats to stop blocking bipartisan funding and let us replenish the PPP before more Americans lose

Read More

The Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee will meet on Tuesday amid a prolonged deadlock in Congress over how to support the US economy battered by the coronavirus downturn.

The central bank deployed its most potent tools including trillions of dollars in liquidity lines and an emergency rate cut to near-zero in the pandemic’s opening days, but the new fiscal support Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other officials have said the economy demands has yet to be approved by Congress.

The Fed is however loathe to wade directly into political debates and economists don’t expect that to change at the regular two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Rather, officials will perhaps offer details on their new inflation targeting strategy while underscoring that, despite some positive economic signs, unpredictability reigns.

“I would also expect them to say something along the lines of ‘uncertainties abound because of the pandemic,’ something we

Read More

Here’s the biggest unknown about the economy right now: Just how much will the loss of federal coronavirus aid for families and businesses stunt a recovery that already has lost steam.

Democrats and Republicans ceased negotiations in early August and Congress adjourned after the two parties failed to break a deadlock on the next financial-relief package.

The impasse resulted in the expiration of a $600 federal benefit each week for tens of millions of jobless Americans as well as massive subsidies for thousands of companies struggling to survive.

With both party conventions under way ahead of the November elections, neither seems in a rush to strike a deal even as the coronavirus keeps spreading and mass unemployment casts a huge shadow over the economy.

The latest increase in weekly jobless benefit claims, a proxy for layoffs, raised the possibility that companies could lay off more workers or decline to bring

Read More