Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who offered the GOP proposal, said on the Senate floor, “we need more funds and we need them quickly,” added, “I want to add more money to the only part of our bipartisan bill that can run out money.”
“My colleagues must not treat Americans who work like political hostages,” McConnell said, “We must not disappoint them.”
Democratic Senator from Maryland, Chris Van Hollen said that Democrats recognized that more money was needed for the program, but argued that further action was needed besides increasing funding. “All these requests are urgent,” the senator said, adding that he believed they could be handled on a “bipartisan basis.”
“Let’s settle it and let’s settle it right,” he said, asking the Senate to issue an amended version of the bill that would include Democrats’ demands. However, McConnell voiced objections, blocking the request, while Democrats blocked the majority leader’s initial request to continue increasing clean funding.
After launching the program less than a week ago, the Treasury asked Congress on Tuesday for $ 250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal-backed loan program intended to help business owners keep their companies afloat amid a global pandemic. The launch has been far from smooth, and with so many applications coming in, Treasury is asking for more money now in an effort to ensure business owners wait in line that money will be there.
But Senate Democrats – who unanimously supported the program when it was passed last month – have denied any legislation to increase funding for Small Business Administration loans must also include other provisions, including money for frontline hospitals fighting the corona virus and $ 150 billion in funding in funding for state and local governments. Democrats also demanded half of the money for SBA – $ 125 billion – be driven to community lenders to ensure underserved communities get loans.
Negotiators from both sides are now expected to discuss how to proceed because congressional leaders say they will most likely want to pass any law without requiring a majority of MPs to return to Washington, which means both parties will likely need to agree on the process . before continuing.
MPs return to their home countries by recess when a pandemic strikes the whole country and, as a result, any effort to highlight additional funding for the loan program needs to be done with unanimous approval, which can be blocked if there are council members who object, or by vote, which do not require all members present.
In an indication of the ongoing dispute between the Republican Senate and the Democrats, Senator Marco Rubio, a GOP senator from Florida and chair of the Small Business Committee, issued a statement rejecting the idea of guaranteeing money would be given to certain lenders.
For Democrats, there is pressure to support the Small Business Administration program which, despite a difficult start, has seen broad participation. In a call with the Republicans, Mnuchin praised that a $ 90 billion loan application had been approved and another $ 100 billion was being processed.
But Democrats aren’t the only ones who worry. Republicans and Democrats both voiced frustration with program issues including the fact that many creditors waited for days to get final guidance on how to disburse loans. On Monday, portal lenders use to upload loan application information to the falling SBA. And some members have reported frustration from small business owners who struggle to find lenders willing to offer them loans if they are not already existing customers.
“If you don’t fix what is fundamentally wrong with this program, throwing more money after bad things won’t help small businesses,” Stephanie Murphy, a moderate Democrat from Florida, told CNN about the frustration she heard from voters. “We must try to make the change a condition of giving up another quarter of a trillion dollars.”
If the Senate is able to pass an increase in funding, the next step needs to go to a Democratic-controlled House.
This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.
Manu Raju from CNN contributed to this story.