Senate GOP mulls forgivable loans to businesses to halt layoffs, bankruptcies

Senate GOP mulls forgivable loans to businesses to halt layoffs, bankruptcies
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioChina sanctions Cruz, Rubio, others over Xinjiang legislation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - All eyes on Florida as daily COVID-19 cases hit 15K GOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' MORE (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that Senate Republicans are crafting a plan to provide forgivable loans to businesses derailed by the coronavirus outbreak through a $1 trillion economic rescue plan.

In a series of Thursday tweets, Rubio detailed how GOP senators plan to support companies that could be forced to lay off workers as the measures to slow the coronavirus pandemic shut down entire industries across the U.S.

Rubio said that the loans would be issued through banks, credit unions and other private-sector financial firms to help speed the process of distributing funds. If a business uses the loan to keep workers on payroll, pay their rent or handle other necessary expenses, Rubio added, they would not be forced to pay back the loan.

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The overall goal was to “Get cash to small business [as] fast & easy as possible so they don’t have to lay people off,” tweeted Rubio, who is spearheading the Senate GOP’s deliberations on business aid. “If they use it for that purpose doesn’t have to be paid back.”

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pitches Goya Foods products on Twitter Sessions defends recusal: 'I leave elected office with my integrity intact' Former White House physician Ronny Jackson wins Texas runoff MORE and lawmakers are scrambling to get ahead of a likely flood of layoffs and business failures driven by the coronavirus pandemic and the drastic measures needed to slow its progress.

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Claims for unemployment insurance spiked by 70,000 in the week between March 8 and March 13, with numbers almost certain to soar as a rising number of restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, hotels and other businesses are forced to close or limit service for weeks, if not months.

“There are a lot of enterprises that are hurting right now, and they’re going to start laying off people unless we get some money to them,” said Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyIllinois House Republican leader won't attend GOP convention in Florida: 'It's not going to be a safe environment' Judge seeks copy of order commuting Roger Stone sentence Top Mueller prosecutor: 'We could have done more' in Russia investigation MORE (R-Utah) on the “The Hugh Hewitt Show” Thursday. “We’d rather have the employers paying those people than have them show up to the unemployment office.”

The Trump administration and lawmakers are also seeking ways to help workers who’ve already been laid off or may be forced to miss work if they or a loved one contracts the coronavirus.

Trump on Wednesday signed a bill negotiated by House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiUS praises British ban on China's Huawei after pressure campaign Voter fraud charges filed against GOP Rep. Steve Watkins Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: California backtracks on reopening as cases soar nationwide; SoapBox CEO David Simnick says nimble firms can work around supply chain chokepoints to access supplies for sanitizers and hygienic materials The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Supreme Court allows federal executions in 2 a.m. decision Goldman Sachs: More than 80 percent of small firms that got PPP loans say they will run out of money by August MORE to bolster unemployment insurance, paid sick leave and provide free coronavirus testing. 

Mnuchin also told Fox Business Network that the administration is proposing to send every U.S. household $1,000 for each adult and $500 for each child within three weeks of the stimulus bill passing with another round to come six weeks later if the economy is unable to rebound.

Lawmakers in both parties support emergency direct payments to U.S. households, which were deployed by former President George W. Bush during the 2001 and 2008 recessions. 

The proposals differ greatly from the universal basic income plans supported by a slew of progressives, including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangBiden campaign to take over 'Supernatural' star's Instagram for interview Hillicon Valley: Justice Department announces superseding indictment against WikiLeaks' Assange | Facebook ad boycott gains momentum | FBI sees spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats | Boston city government bans facial recognition technology The Hill's Campaign Report: Progressives feel momentum after primary night MORE, that would provide each U.S. adult with a steady, monthly income regardless of the state of the economy.

Jordain Carney contributed.