Kudlow presses Congress to replenish small-business loan program

Top White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE on Friday expressed exasperation with Congress for failing to pass additional funding for small-business loans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I’m impatient ... I don’t know why it couldn’t have been automatic," Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, told reporters at the White House.

"I stood here and said earlier this week we were going to run out on Wednesday or Thursday," he said. "I just don’t know why they can’t do a quick voice vote and replenish it and give it $250 billion. You see the unemployment insurance claims. They’re very high. It’s a dreadful story, there’s a lot of hardship.

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"Let’s get moving. It’s a very popular program, well-administered, we just need a replenishment. So I don’t know what they’re waiting for, honestly."

The Small Business Administration announced Thursday that it had exhausted the initial $349 billion allocated by Congress to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic as state leaders order shops other than grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants serving takeout to close to try to limit the spread of the virus.

The Senate adjourned on Thursday without a deal, meaning the impasse will last until at least Monday, when the chamber is next expected to convene for another pro forma session. 

The breakdown comes as Democrats are pushing for the replenishment of the PPP to include additional funding for state and local hospitals and measures that ensure loans make it to women- and minority-owned businesses.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt Schumer lashes out at Trump over 'blue states' remark: 'What a disgrace' MORE (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC on Friday morning that party leaders had "constructive talks" with the Trump administration and would continue to negotiate through the weekend. Vice President Pence had a call with Senate Democrats scheduled for Friday afternoon.

"I don't see a reason that we can't come to an agreement soon," Schumer said.