McConnell to try to pass small business funds Thursday, warns against holding it ‘hostage’

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is signaling he will move forward with an attempt to pass hundreds of billions of dollars in new small business funding, saying an attempt by Democrats to include additional provisions would not be successful this week.

McConnell, in a string of tweets on Wednesday night, said he will go to the Senate floor on Thursday morning to try to pass an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by unanimous consent. 

“Ten million Americans were laid off in just the last two weeks. Tomorrow morning will likely bring another historic unemployment figure. This is urgent. If Senators delay this urgent paycheck support to insist on a broader bill, more Americans will lose their jobs unnecessarily,” McConnell tweeted. 

Because Republicans are trying to pass the new funding by unanimous consent any one senator can object and block it. 

McConnell initially indicated on Tuesday that he would try to pass the Treasury Department’s request for new funding as soon as Thursday. The $250 billion would come in addition to the $350 billion provided for the small business loan program as part of last month’s $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package. 

But the plan appeared to catch Democrats off guard, with a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) saying McConnell didn’t reach out to the Democratic leader before announcing the decision.

And Democrats are pushing to add hundreds of billions in additional funding to the small business funding bill including $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for states and local governments and a boost in food assistance.  

Of the $250 billion for small businesses, Schumer and Pelosi want to make sure $125 billion is “channeled through community-based financial institutions that serve farmers, family, women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses and nonprofits.” 

But Republicans and the White House have signaled they oppose broadening the bill, arguing it should wait for additional coronavirus bills that Congress is likely to pass in the coming months. Lawmakers are already discussing a fourth coronavirus relief bill. 

“The White House says they don’t support that, but we do,” Pelosi told NPR on Wednesday about the broader proposal, adding that the Senate GOP proposal “will not get unanimous support in the House.”

But McConnell countered in the string of tweets on Wednesday that there was no “realistic chance” that a “sprawling” bill would pass Congress this week.  

“I hope none of my colleagues object to my request for these urgently-needed funds. There is no reason why this bipartisan job-saving program should be held hostage for other priorities. Let’s re-fund the only program that’s already running dry and keep moving forward together,” he said. 

Tags Charles Schumer Coronavirus Mitch McConnell

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