Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who brokered the $2.2 trillion rescue package that passed in late March, talked with Democratic leaders Senator Chuck Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, though there was no sign of a breakthrough.

Schumer, after talking to Mnuchin on Friday, sounded a hopeful note about bipartisan talks and the possibility of reaching an agreement early this week. “There’s no reason why we can’t,” Schumer said.

President Donald Trump also struck an optimistic tone.

“Despite what you’re reading -- you know, there’s back and forth -- but we are getting along with the Democrats,” he said at a White House briefing on Friday.

Democrats want changes to the Paycheck Protection Program to focus more of the money on smaller banks and smaller businesses. They also want to allocate $250 billion in aid to states and hospitals -- something Republican leaders and Trump have said can wait until later.

Republicans painted Democrats as obstructionists for blocking the $250 billion in additional funding for the PPP program sought by the Trump administration and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The loans give small businesses as much as $10 million each that will be forgiven if they maintain their payrolls.

GOP Representative Devin Nunes of California said Saturday on Fox News that the Republican effort was “just a plus-up” of the small-business program, while Democrats want it loaded up “with a lot more junk.”

More than half of the PPP money has already been allocated. As of Saturday morning, 725,000 applications had been approved, representing more than $182 billion in commitments, according to the Small Business Administration. It’s unclear how much money has actually reached business owners.

Political Risks
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Saturday the money would be depleted by Friday. The political risks of delay will ramp up once the money is gone, given that millions of businesses -- particularly smaller ones -- risk getting left out as banks prioritize their best customers. Many small businesses are on the brink, or worse.

Given that dynamic, a deal appears all but certain. But lawmakers will once again have to find a way to bridge the partisan split so that legislation can be approved by unanimous consent.