House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans

House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans
© Greg Nash

Top House Republicans are signaling support for billions in additional funding for small businesses devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

House GOP leaders are rallying around Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO's Michelle McMurry-Heath says 400 projects started in 16 weeks in biotech firms to fight virus, pandemic unemployment total tops 43 million IRS faces obstacles with remaining stimulus checks On The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility MORE's call for an additional $250 billion to be made available for small-business loans. The request, made by Mnuchin to the four congressional leaders in both parties, comes less than two weeks after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE signed into law a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that included $350 billion for small-business loans known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Following his conversation with Mnuchin, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Floyd eulogies begin; Trump-Esper conflict emerges The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force MORE (R-Calif.) said it has become evident that more funding is needed.

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"The demand for [the PPP] has been overwhelming and in just one week, the federal government has provided tens of billions of dollars in relief. I spoke with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin this morning and he made clear that more money will be needed for the program," McCarthy said in a statement.

"Later today he will make a formal request to Congress. I support the Secretary’s request and following the Senate’s approval, the House should move swiftly to do the same and provide confidence to small businesses across the country that their government will be there for them," McCarthy added.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseClyburn: Cowed GOP ascribes 'mystical powers' to Trump Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force over coronavirus probe MORE (R-La.) said the funding boost is a critical step in helping small businesses stay afloat during the crisis.

"The Paycheck Protection Program has been very critical to that objective, and we need to make sure that it will work for all small businesses, not just those who were first in line, so that American workers will have jobs to go back to once shelter-in-place orders are lifted," he said in a statement. "One day, soon, our lives will start returning to normal."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump vows to campaign against Murkowski after senator's criticism Senate advances conservation fund bill, House introduces companion Paul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill MORE (R-Ky.) has indicated he is looking to move swiftly to approve the additional funds for the program, with the upper chamber looking to pass it as soon as Thursday.

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"Congress needs to act with speed and total focus to provide more money for this uncontroversial bipartisan program. I will work with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader Schumer and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday," McConnell said in a statement.

Mnuchin said he expects the funding to pass both chambers in the coming days, but there have been no scheduling announcements about when the bill might come to the House floor.

“We look forward to the Senate passing that on Thursday and the House passing that on Friday,” Mnuchin said at a White House event Tuesday afternoon.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump says he believes Scarborough 'got away with murder' Hillicon Valley: House FISA bill in jeopardy | Democrats drop controversial surveillance measure | GOP working on legislation to strip Twitter of federal liability protections The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump ramps up attacks against Twitter MORE (Wyo.) called for its speedy passage and urged members not to insert any language that could derail the measure.

"Funding for a program that is this important cannot be allowed to run dry and should not be subject to partisan games," she said.

The call for additional funds has bipartisan support, with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: 'Scary' to see uniformed troops on steps of Lincoln Memorial Pelosi: Democrats to unveil sweeping criminal justice proposal Monday Pelosi demands Trump clarify deployment of unidentified law enforcement in DC MORE (D-Calif.) telling CNN that the PPP "really needs money right away, we know that, because of the demand."

But she added that Democrats “want to make sure the program is administered in a way that does not solidify inequality in how people have access to capital instead benefit to everyone who qualifies for it. We want to have certain considerations if we were to go forward with that.”

The program has gotten off to a rocky start, with complaints from both borrowers and lenders about the rules and application process.

Updated at 4:41 p.m.