Sen. Ted Cruz ripped Congressional Democrats for holding up a bill that would replenish a small business emergency relief program that ran dry last week.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tweeted on Saturday that Democrats are slow-walking a bill that would inject more money into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to secure funding for minority owned businesses.
“We cannot let minority-owned small businesses fall through the cracks of the Paycheck Protection Program. I joined my colleagues this week calling for data transparency on small business loans to make sure that people of color aren’t being shut out from help during a pandemic,” said Harris, a former 2020 presidential candidate.
Cruz (R-TX) slammed Harris and her Democratic colleagues for seeking special earmarks for certain classes of small businesses when most business owners are struggling under coronavirus-induced lockdowns.
“Kamala, EVERYBODY’s falling through the cracks because your party is blocking ALL new funds for the Paycheck Protection Program. Every day, more & more small businesses go bankrupt — and each week millions more employees get laid off — and Dems keep playing partisan games. Stop!” Cruz tweeted.
Kamala, EVERYBODY’s falling through the cracks because your party is blocking ALL new funds for the Paycheck Protection Program. Every day, more & more small businesses go bankrupt—and each week millions more employees get laid off—and Dems keep playing partisan games. Stop! https://t.co/imCEfTWOc6
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 18, 2020
The PPP ran out of its initial investment of $350 million on Thursday, leaving small businesses that had not yet applied or received approval for an emergency loan to stay afloat through the pandemic in a tenuous spot. The program was approved by Congress to encourage small businesses to retain and pay as many employees as possible as numerous states enforce strict stay-at-home orders over the pandemic.
Senators are haggling over the specifics of a $500 billion aid package that includes about $300 billion for the PPP. At Democrats’ request, the current draft of the bill allocates $60 billion more for businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, and other specific groups. The sticking point is over Democrats’ demands for $150 billion for state and local governments, according to Politico.
The restaurant chain Shake Shack gave back a $10 million loan it was approved to receive from the PPP after making roughly $150 million on Friday by selling equity. Shake Shack’s CEO Randy Garutti and founder Danny Meyer announced on Monday that the funding would be returned for other businesses to tap into.
“Shake Shack was fortunate last Friday to be able to access the additional capital we needed to ensure our long term stability through an equity transaction in the public markets,” the executives said. “We’re thankful for that and we’ve decided to immediately return the entire $10 million PPP loan we received last week to the [Small Business Association] so that those restaurants who need it most can get it now.”
In the past four weeks, nearly 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment after being fired or furloughed during the pandemic, according to Thursday’s unemployment claims. The real number of workers who have lost jobs or income is likely much higher as record unemployment claims flooded government offices causing severe delays.
State stay-at-home orders are crippling businesses that are no longer allowed to serve customers or are operating under heavy restrictions. In the past month, historic reported job losses have roughly equaled the number of jobs gained since the end of the Great Recession.