FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media after a meeting in the office of House U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to wrap up work on coronavirus economic aid legislation, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2020. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert – RC25PF9NX45Y/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democrats and Republicans were near agreement on Monday for extra money to help small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, a top Republican lawmaker said, but he accused Democrats of holding up a deal.

“We could have been done yesterday, but the Democrats continue to hold up, even though we had agreed to all the numbers,” Representative Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader, told Fox News.

President Donald Trump said on Sunday that Republicans were “close” to an agreement with Democrats, who have the majority int he House, and suggested there could be a resolution on Monday.

“A lot of good work has been going on. We could have an answer tomorrow,” the Republican president said.

Members of the two parties have been taking shots at one another over the delay in further small-business aid, as Trump supporters have been staging protests of orders for Americans to stay at home and businesses to remain closed, to prevent the further spread of the virus.

The Trump administration sought to add $250 billion to a small-business loan program established last month as part of a $2.3 trillion coronavirus economic relief plan. That fund has already been exhausted.

Democratic leaders wanted more money for small businesses but with safeguards to ensure credit reaches underserved communities. They also sought more funds for state and local governments and hospitals, as well as food aid for the poor.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Lambert and David Gregorio

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