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A M Reid
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The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Thursday that the federal Payment Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses has officially run out of the $349 billion in funds which Congress just approved last month. In a statement SBA, said it is “currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding. Similarly, we are unable to enroll new PPP lenders at this time.”
Across the United States, small business owners and their workers are struggling to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the lock down forcing many businesses to shut. The PPP is intended to support small businesses by providing them loans “to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs,” and was part of the overall $2 trillion economic rescue package Congress approved in late March, called the CARES Act.
Discussions to replenish the PPP are currently underway. Last week, an additional $250 billion has been proposed for the program, but the proposal was blocked. Senate Democrats expressed concerns that there should be more funding for hospitals and state and local governments, as well.
“The hospitals, state and local governments are on the front lines of this crisis,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “They’re running out — have been running out of money and desperately need emergency infusion of additional funds to care for patients and prevent greater spread and death.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Democrats, Pelosi in particular, for blocking the additional funding for the program.
“Why are they saying no to small business? Why are they saying no to hard-working taxpayers? They say they’re the party of fairness, but this is just not fair. This is only designed to keep people hired,” McCarthy remarked. “There are 22 million reasons why the Democrats should say yes. But they sent somebody here just to object. This is exactly what Speaker Pelosi did in the passing of the CARES Act, to hold it up, to put in her policies, to bring up election law, bring up a Green New Deal and others. That has nothing to do with this.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also criticized Democrats, telling them to “not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more.”
“We need more funding, and we need it fast,” he added. “We do not have to do everything right now.”
Despite the criticism, on Friday Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, defended blocking the proposal.
Morning Joe co-anchor Willie Geist told Schumer that it looked like Democrats “are standing in the way” of the additional $250 billion proposed for small businesses, because they “want to negotiate another piece for hospitals and state and local governments.”
“That’s not true,” Schumer responded. “To give the money to the PPP program without correcting it would make no sense. You would still have more than half of the businesses left out and getting no money. Don’t just ask Democrats. Eight Republican senators said that in a letter to Mitch McConnell. The Chamber of Commerce, hardly a Democratic organization, also agreed. So we have to fix that program as we give it more money.”
Schumer then continued, “And Number Two, as I mentioned, Willie, if we don’t deal with the health care — that’s just as immediate as small business. The testing, which you have talked about all morning — correctly so — the lack of money for hospitals, the fact that small governments, local governments and state governments are so lacking money is also vital,” he explained. “And when they lay off hundreds of thousands of people, which they will before May 4 when we come back, that’s just as bad as the small business person not being able to employ people.”
President Donald Trump has since tweeted about the $250 billion proposal being blocked:
“Democrats are blocking additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program. They are killing American small businesses. Stop playing politics Dems! Support Refilling PPP NOW – it is out of funds!”
Notably, McCarthy has now said he backs the Democratic proposal of adding funding for hospitals.
“I’d like to see money in there—money in the [Paycheck Protection Program] and money in hospitals—that would be a very smart move right now,” McCarthy said to the Wall Street Journal.
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