The federal government’s small-business relief program shut down on Thursday because funding ran out and will remain shut at least until Monday because of a lack of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.
The shortfall in funding leaves hundreds of thousands of businesses without a lifeline as they try to survive the pandemic.
Replenishment of the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus relief program, called the Paycheck Protection Program, has been held up by disagreements between Democrats and Republicans on structuring the program, which is intended to help small businesses keep employees on their payroll while business has dried up because of the virus.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried last week to pass a bill infusing $250 billion more into the program, but Democrats blocked the request. They proposed their own $500 billion measure, which included changes to the program, restructuring it to provide special funding for vulnerable businesses and underserved communities. They also sought to include money for hospitals, state and local governments, and food assistance recipients.
“Here’s where we are, a week later, with absolutely no progress,” McConnell said on Thursday afternoon. “This morning, the program ran out of money and shut down, just as I warned a week ago. But even now, Senate Democrats are still blocking funding.”
President Trump said Thursday evening that the administration is negotiating with Democrats and that he hopes they approve a funding resolution quickly.
“We are having a hard time getting them to approve,” said Trump, during the coronavirus press briefing on at the White House. “I think it’s going to happen and should happen unanimously, but they are trying to get things and we are not too happy.”
Democrats, however, say that they are not blocking the program from being funded but instead are fighting to make sure the funds get into the hands of vulnerable small-business owners that they say are not getting access to the relief loans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday that the program was a critical tool for helping workers across the country but that “serious flaws are keeping far too many small businesses from receiving the resources they need. The Senate GOP must stop blocking commonsense solutions that put Families First.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, hit back against Democrats on Thursday, arguing that smaller companies were receiving help from the loan program, as evidenced by the fact that the “average loan is only $239,000,” said Rubio.
McConnell announced on Thursday that the Senate would be adjourned until Monday afternoon, meaning that the small-business relief program funding will not get replenished until early next week at the soonest.
Author: Nihal Krishan
Source: Washington Examiner: No additional small-business relief funding in sight, McConnell says