Florida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout

Florida Democrat hits administration over small business loan rollout
© Greg Nash

Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyCongress must fill the leadership void Overnight Health Care: Pence press secretary tests positive for coronavirus | Watchdog recommends ousted vaccine expert be temporarily reinstated | Health care industry loses 1.4 million jobs It's time to strengthen protections for government watchdogs in order to protect our taxpayer dollars MORE (D-Fla.) on Monday criticized the Trump administration's implementation of the latest coronavirus relief package, arguing small businesses are suffering under the weight of the pandemic.

Murphy said the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program, a key component of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last month, has faltered because “banks are unwilling to step forward and extend these loans.”

If businesses didn’t have existing loans, they’re at the “end of the line” to get one, Murphy said during a webinar hosted by the BakerHostetler Federal Policy team.

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Trump said last week he would consider boosting funds for the program if the money runs out.

Further funding could also come in the form of a fourth coronavirus relief package.

Murphy, a leader of the moderate Blue Dogs, said both she and her constituents have been unhappy with how the previous version turned out.

“Certainly, to date, the experience and the feedback I’ve gotten from my constituents is, ‘Your bill missed the mark,’” Murphy said. “‘That 3.0 did some good things, but a lot of people fell through the cracks and those people are trying to get their last breath of air in hopes that will get them to a place where real help is on its way.’”

Almost every member of Congress, including Murphy, voted for the historic $2.2 trillion measure that Trump signed into law on March 27.

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“A lot of my beef about the way that legislation has been written is that it’s often written by a staff member or imagined by a member of Congress who had never worked in a small business or in a business at all, or ever been required to make payroll,” Murphy said.

“I’m proud to say that we did pass three bipartisan bills, but many of the proposals were altered in a way that I think might not yield the intended consequence or the intended benefit in utility for small businesses, or in my case, hospitality businesses, as we had hoped,” she added.

But efforts to craft a fourth coronavirus bill are off to a rocky start. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation COVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks MORE (R-Ky.) are already at odds over how best to address the economic and health impacts from the pandemic in the next package.

Pelosi is pushing for Democratic priorities like increased paid family and sick leave and free coronavirus treatment, while McConnell and other Senate Republicans are leaning more toward a wait-and-see approach with the measures being implemented.

“I do think that the next phase does have to deal with ensuring that the $2 trillion is implemented in the way that it was intended and probably provide more resources in that space,” Murphy said. “And I don’t, I’m not somebody who thinks we should wait around and see the 2 trillion work its way through our economy.”

“I think this problem and what we’re seeing is far worse than $2 trillion can address,” she added.