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 RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right 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 TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims 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 RomneyFive questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack Overnight On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — GOP senator: It's 'foolish' to buy Treasury bonds 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 PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMenendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election 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 YangAndrew Yang planning to launch third party: report Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Kings launch voting rights effort honoring John Lewis MORE, that would provide each U.S. adult with a steady, monthly income regardless of the state of the economy.

Jordain Carney contributed.