Republicans vow to seek clean funding increase for small businesses


Republican congressional leaders on Saturday vowed to seek another clean funding increase for small businesses after dueling Senate plans were blocked this week, raising doubts over the prospect of bipartisan talks over the next relief package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans will keep pressing for a $250 billion increase to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides funds to help small businesses contend with the coronavirus-fueled economic meltdown. 

Democrats opposed the measure this week and proposed their own plan, which provides additional money for hospitals and states as well as the small-business funds. Their plan was in turn blocked by the GOP.

“Republicans did not ask to change any policy details that were negotiated by both parties and passed unanimously. All we want to do is put more money into a popular job-saving policy which both parties designed together,” McConnell and McCarthy said in a statement. “[Democrats’] unrelated demands included hundreds of billions of extra dollars for parts of the legislation which are still coming online and have not yet spent a single dollar.”

“We will continue to seek a clean PPP funding increase. We hope our Democratic colleagues familiarize themselves with the facts and the data before the program runs dry,” they added. 

The statement from the two GOP leaders casts doubt over the prospect of bipartisan negotiations for the next coronavirus relief package.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke Friday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and said he hopes to relaunch negotiations over the next phase of legislation.

“He agreed to pursue bipartisan talks with the leadership of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans on interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief legislation. There’s no reason why we can’t come to a bipartisan agreement by early next week,” Schumer said in a statement.

The PPP was granted roughly $350 billion in the last relief package signed into law by President Trump. However, the small-business fund has been thrust into the spotlight in recent days over warning signs that an avalanche of applications from small businesses, contractors and “gig” workers could deplete the money available.

McConnell and McCarthy insisted they will continue rejecting Democrats’ efforts to add additional funding to the next PPP package, accusing the party of using American workers as “hostages.”

“American workers are in crisis. Nobody except Washington Democrats seems to be unclear on this fact or confused about the urgency,” they said. “Republicans reject Democrats’ reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril.” 

“This will not be Congress’s last word on COVID-19, but this crucial program needs funding now. American workers cannot be used as political hostages,” they added.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Paycheck Protection Program Steven Mnuchin

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