Additional Funding For Small-Business Loan Program Hits Snag In Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to approve more funding for the small-business loan program this week stalled out as Republicans and Democrats put forth competing bills. The Senate is unlikely to vote on funding before Monday. The small-business loan program created in March is quickly moving through its $350 billion in funding and the Treasury Department has requested another $250 billion from Congress.

In an effort to avoid having senators traveling during the pandemic, the legislation was put forth through a unanimous consent process, meaning any one senator could block the process, and it failed. Senate Democrats objected to the bill put forth by Sen. McConnell, which would fund the Paycheck Protection Program with an additional $250 billion, noting that it had been announced without any consultation or negotiation.

The Democrats’ own bill, along with the $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, includes a further $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for local, state and tribal governments, and expanded funding for food assistance. Republicans rejected the proposal, describing it as “sprawling” and its additions premature.

Negotiations with Senate Republicans and Democrats, and with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to continue. Regardless of what the Senate ultimately approves, how quickly it passes through the House of Representatives is also uncertain, as it, too, hopes to pass the bill by consent or voice vote to avoid bringing representatives back to the chamber, and neither Senate bill is a sure-thing there.

filed under April 2002
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