Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking Democrats from bringing their own version of an emergency supplemental provision for small business loans to the Senate floor, saying there’s no time for “political games.”
Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are pushing for a dueling bill worth twice as much that includes broader funding measures and other stipulations, in addition to the money for small businesses.
Democrats support additional funding with added stipulations: $125 billion of the $250 billion must go through local banks that serve farmers, family, women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses; it must include nonprofits in rural, tribal, suburban and urban communities; and businesses can’t be rejected for not having a prior relationship or loan with a bank, as has reportedly happened.
Schumer is expected to try and pass the Democratic plan, which McConnell will prevent from happening.
The GOP version of the bill is expected to be shot down by Senate Democrats when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) puts the legislation up for a unanimous consent vote Thursday morning.
“Democrats have a better alternative and will bring it to the floor tomorrow,” a senior Senate Democratic aide said Wednesday night, according to Newsweek.
McConnell took to Twitter to attack Democrats over the impasse.
“If Senators delay this urgent paycheck support to insist on a broader bill, more Americans will lose their jobs unnecessarily,” McConnell wrote in a series of tweets. “There is no reason why this bipartisan job-saving program should be held hostage for other priorities.”
The Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses was created under an historic $2 trillion stimulus passed last month to combat the pandemic’s economic impact and received $350 billion. However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said with the volume of small businesses applying for the loans—which can be forgiven, so long as the money is used for payroll expenses, like employees—the pot of money is quickly being depleted and will require another $250 billion.
“We do not have time for the partisan games, and we don’t want that, the obstruction or the totally unrelated agendas,” President Donald Trump said at his daily White House coronavirus briefing.
Pelosi told NPR’s All Things Considered Wednesday afternoon that the $250 billion in aid Republicans want could not pass the House because it lacked the ability for some small businesses to qualify. “The bill that they put forth doesn’t have—will not get unanimous support in the [Democratic] Caucus in the House. It just won’t,” she said.
McConnell urged his colleagues on the other side of the aisle to approve the $250 billion for small businesses—no strings attached—and to address the other matters in subsequent coronavirus legislation.