Senate Democrats Block Small Business Loan Expansion, Calling for Aid to Be Doubled

Senate Democrats are blocking a Republican bill to provide $250 billion more to aid small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus, arguing that the funding is not sufficient, Axios reports.

One of the key parts of the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill signed by the president last month was the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to small businesses that are forgiven if they retain their workers.

The bill provided $350 billion for small businesses but, like every other part of the bill, it is not going to be enough to get through the crisis. Both parties agree that they need to add more money into the program but they are split on how much.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that would inject another $250 billion into the fund, hoping to pass the bill with unanimous consent. But any single Democrat can block a unanimous consent vote, which is what Democrats did on Thursday.

McConnell subsequently blocked the Democrats' attempt to pass their bill by unanimous consent and adjourned the Senate until Monday.

Democrats want more funding:

While Democrats agreed that injecting another $250 billion into the PPP was a good idea, the Democrats’ proposal includes additional funding for entities that were excluded from the previous stimulus bill.

The Democrats are calling for additional funding that would include money for community-based financial institutions that were unable to participate in PPP.

The party also wants $100 billion to help hospitals and community health systems, $150 billion to help state and local governments facing steep budget shortfalls, and 15% additional aid for the SNAP food stamp program.

Parties spar over differences:

“I want to add more money to the only part of our bipartisan bill that is running out of money," McConnell said on Thursday, adding that it was not time for "unnecessary wrangling or political maneuvering" by Democrats.

"We have time to negotiate to see how and where and when we should have more money there," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, blasting the Senate for adjourning through Easter weekend.

"I don't have any intention of spending any one second on Sunday trying to convince anybody that it's necessary for us to address the needs of everyone in our society," she said. "If they don't know that, if we don't share that value, they're not going to get it on Easter Sunday."


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