Democrats Continue to Block Badly Needed Recovery Funds for Nation's Employees, Small Businesses

“I cannot understand a scenario where you (Democrats) want to play politics... There’s no explanation.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — As Democrats continued to block a badly needed funding boost for the nation's small business after  initial CoronaVirus Relief was quickly used, Republicans are painting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as hostage-takers. Critical funds for small businesses, hospitals, and State & Local Governments have, or are running out.

The bill, known as the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economy Security Act,) included $377 billion in Small Business Grants & Loans, $293 billion in direct payments to Americans, and $268 billion in expanded Unemployment Benefits.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program, the main federal vehicle for loans to small businesses walloped by the coronavirus crisis in order to prevent layoffs, proved to be so popular that it has run out of the $349 billion Congress initially allocated in less than two weeks.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program offers loans covering two months of payroll, plus some rent and utility costs, for any firm with fewer than 500 employees. If a borrower avoids layoffs during that time, the loan is forgiven ― meaning the program essentially offers to pay a company’s wages.  
  • More than 1.6 million small businesses applied for the program’s loans, which are issued by banks and backed by the federal government. The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Thursday morning it is “currently unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program based on available appropriations funding.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA, at right in the Oval Office with President Trump and Vice Pres. Mike Pence,) warned Democrats earlier this week that their continued opposition to a clean funding increase of $250 billion for the program would result in “pink slips and shuttered businesses” across the country.
  • More than 20 million Americans have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in the last four weeks.
  • Under the payroll program, companies that already laid off workers can still qualify for the loans if they hire them back by the end of June
"Nobody except Washington Democrats seem to be unclear on this fact, or confused about the urgency," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a joint statement earlier this week.

"Republicans reject Democrats' reckless threat to continue blocking job-saving funding unless we renegotiate unrelated programs which are not in similar peril," McConnell and McCarthy said.

Speaker Pelosi announced that she is establishing a new Select Committee to oversee the administration's implementation of the $2 trillion rescue package. The bipartisan panel — which needs to be approved by the House — will be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC).

Pelosi told reporters during a press call Thursday, "Where there's money, there's also frequently mischief."

But top Republicans say the focus is misplaced and that the select panel is unnecessary. They also raised concerns that Democrats would just use it as a political weapon.
 
"Does the Speaker of the House not trust the (regular) House Oversight Committee?" asked McCarthy.

President Trump went even further, criticiziing the Democrat's "endless partisan investigations" and "witch hunts" — likely a preview of the oversight clashes to come.

 
Senate Majority Leader McConnell said there's been "absolutely no progress" made in the Senate this week because of Democrat's demands, and quickly adjourned the body on Thursday (until Monday) as a result.

With the impasse now in its second week, and wiithout additional funding, banks and the Small Business Administration will be unable to approve more of the Paycheck Protection Program loans designed to avert layoffs – as small businesses across America face strains that grow daily.
 
Said Pelosi during her call with reporters Thursday, "In order for them to succeed, people have to be well. People need to be safe, and we need to have state and local funding (included in the bill)."

McConnell respond to Pelosi's comments incredulously:

"It's absolutely surreal to see Democrat leaders treat support for workers and small businesses as something they need to be goaded — goaded — into supporting.

“This should be above politics,” said the Senate leader.

Added McCarthy:

 
“I cannot understand a scenario where you (Democrats) want to play politics with that. There’s no explanation – All they have to do is say ‘yes’... today!”

President Trump told senators on a new Economic Task Force phone call Thursday that he wants to work with Democrats to get a deal, according to a Democrat familiar with the call.

But Congressional Republicans remain skeptical that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be able to cut a deal for further small business relief with Senate Democrats.

"We don't have the luxury of time here," said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). "I would be open to that discussion, but I'm open to that discussion being very narrowly focused."

Democrat Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona expressed frustration with the impasse being imposed by her fellow Democrats, and endorsed a bill that would solely funding the Paycheck Protection Program:
 
"The Senate should approve additional funding by unanimous consent – ASAP," Sinema said.

"Small businesses need our help to survive during this emergency."

Democrat leadership, nonetheless, refused to budge this week as the funds ran out, citing requests for more aid from governors in the politically critical states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – where state budgets have run thin even prior to the CoronaVirus pandemic.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the Democrats' stance "disgusting" on Twitter.
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He, like many other Republicans, have said theyre open to giving more money to other priorities, but only after the exhausted Paycheck Protection Program Fund is prioritized and replenished.

“I’m frustrated, I’m dismayed, I’m disgusted,” said Cong. Dean Phillips (D-MN), who beat a GOP incumbent in 2018. “And I speak for a lot of us when I say that.”

Phillips emphasized he wasn’t criticizing any one leader in particular but rather the “business-as-usual” partisanship on display as top lawmakers — and party campaign committees — blast out statements blaming the other side instead of negotiating.

“I know this is shocking to you, but, some of this is just posturing,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn (left,) noting that both Schumer and Pelosi were using the COVID-19 CoronaVirus emergency as an “opportunity to spend money.”

“We urge Congress to appropriate additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program — a critical and overwhelmingly bipartisan program — at which point we will once again be able to process loan applications, issue loan numbers, and protect millions more paychecks," Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a joint statement Wednesday evening.
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