Karen G. Mills, who led the Small Business Administration (SBA) under former President Barack Obama, called on Congress to act immediately to replenish the funds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ran out of funds roughly one week after Democrats blocked the GOP’s attempt to add $251 billion to the program.
The PPP, which offers loans to small businesses facing economic hardships caused by the coronavirus shutdowns, officially ran out of $349 billion provided in the CARES Act on Thursday morning. Mills said Congress must act now.
Per Roll Call:
“Congress has to act as soon as possible,” Mills told CQ Roll Call in an interview Thursday, adding that she’s spoken recently with Democratic senators and Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. “What I’m saying is: Number one, get the money replenished.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) attempted to replenish the program with $251 billion in additional funding last week by unanimous consent, but Democrats effectively blocked the measure, angling for additional funding for local governments and hospitals.
“We need more funding and we need it fast,” McConnell stated at the time. “Do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more.”
According to Roll Call:
Democrats also want to set aside $60 billion of the funds for lenders like community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, to ensure that underserved small businesses that might not have an existing relationship with a traditional lender can access the program.
Mills stressed that such demands could cause delay and make things even more difficult for struggling small business owners.
“Complexity is not our friend here,” she explained. “Things that have to be implemented quickly can’t have a lot of bells and whistles, or else there will be too many unintended consequences — one of which is delay. And we don’t have time to delay”:
Mills said there’s an easier way to ensure that the smallest small businesses get help: Congress should put a lending cap on $100 billion of the guarantee funds, limiting those to loans under a certain maximum, like $45,000. According to SBA data released Tuesday, the average PPP loan has been $239,000.
Republicans are continuing in their calls for a “clean” extension of the paycheck program, despite Democrats’ demands for more.
“Democrats are blocking additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program,” President Trump said on Thursday. “They are killing American small businesses. Stop playing politics Dems! Support Refilling PPP NOW – it is out of funds!”:
Democrats are blocking additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program. They are killing American small businesses. Stop playing politics Dems! Support Refilling PPP NOW – it is out of funds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2020
Even Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is deviating from her own party leaders and demanding the Senate provide additional funding for the program by unanimous consent “ASAP”:
The PPP program is going to run out of funding soon – the Senate should approve add’l funding by unanimous consent ASAP. Small businesses need our help to survive during this emergency. https://t.co/kYTbjGHCXM
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) April 16, 2020
Job Creators Network president and CEO Alfredo Ortiz is urging the American public to reach out to Democrat leadership and demand action now.
“This is ridiculous,” Ortiz said during a Thursday appearance on Fox & Friends. “There’s absolutely no reason why Pelosi or Schumer should be taking these positions.”
And look, at the end of the day, Schumer … has the power to do it. It’s shameless, quite frankly, that they haven’t done that. I urge them today, and anybody who is listening who is a small business owner, who has friends or relatives who own a small business, I urge them to pick up the phone, email, whatever it takes, but call Schumer, email them, text them, whatever it takes, but we must get that funding done today — not tomorrow, not a week from now, not May 4.
“Again, we urge folks to go out, blow up their phones, blow up their emails,” he continued. “We’ve got to act fast on this.”
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