Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Sunday for holding small businesses “hostage” over the Paycheck Protection Program, saying that Democrats are negatively impacting people’s ability to pay their bills and feed their kids.
“I always like to say that the Democrats who are holding this up, realize you’re not negatively impacting businesses, as much as you’re negatively impacting people’s ability to pay their rent, to pay their utilities, to feed their kids,” Scott stated, referencing the Democrats’ blocking of additional funding for the Small Business Administration loan program. “This is a serious situation, that we shouldn’t have a lapse in funding for the PPP program. We should tell Ms. Nancy Pelosi, please give us our paychecks. People need their paychecks. And stop holding it hostage in order to do something else.”
“Going forward, I hope that this week, on Monday, the Senate is able to vote on a package that’s agreed upon with the House and the Senate. Tuesday, the Democrats get it passed,” Scott continued. “And Tuesday, one minute later, we start refunding, replenishing the supply of the Paycheck Protection Program.”
Scott added that members of Congress have been getting hundreds of calls a day from constituents demanding that Congress get its act together because they are hurting financially.
In a wide-ranging interview on FOX News, @SenatorTimScott on the economic damage due to coronavirus, how we should re-open our economy, and what new PPP funding should look like it. Plus, a great piece on how black Americans are starting to support @realDonaldTrump. pic.twitter.com/ZvaIyvJczh
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) April 20, 2020
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The White House looking to open the country soon.
The president outlining a phase three plan, as he assembled a task force on the issue.
Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, is a member of that task force.
And he’s also author of the new book “Opportunity Knocks.
He joins me right now to talk more about the reopening.
Senator, it’s great to see you this morning. Thank you so much for joining us. And congratulations on the book.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Good morning.
BARTIROMO: Nice play on words…
SCOTT: Thank you.
BARTIROMO: … because I know that you have been working on the Opportunity Zones across the country.
BARTIROMO: So I’m going to ask you about that.
But, first, let me ask you about the opening of the economy. The president came out with three different phases in terms of doing that, saying that gyms can reopen in phase one if strict standards are met, elective surgeries can resume under phase one.
Guidelines say, phase two for states with no evidence of rebound, and urging telework, schools staying closed in phase one.
How worried are you that you open the economy too soon, and then we see a relapse of coronavirus?
SCOTT: The president’s strategy is prudent.
He still focuses on the necessity of isolating hot spots in order to mitigate the spread. If we’re looking at the fact that there are states where there is very or little presence of the COVID-19 and those states that are seeing a drop in the number of cases that has hospital capacity, it is prudent to make the first phase focused on getting the economy rolling in those areas where we have the ability to move forward without a strong concern of spreading the virus.
BARTIROMO: So, Peter Navarro was just talking about the impact of a shutdown economy on American families, and the blow to your finances.
And that also leads to its own set of sicknesses. Let me ask you about the assessment so far on the economy. We saw just last week 22 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits in just the last four weeks.
SCOTT: Yes. Wow.
BARTIROMO: We are expecting a recession, a contraction in the second quarter and the third quarter.
How bad has it gone? The damage has been obviously worse in terms of health and people’s lives. But, on the economic front, how would you assess things?
SCOTT: I think things are — we are in a position of devastation.
And think about places in South Carolina like Charleston, South Carolina. Our unemployment rate was 1.5 percent, Maria, 1.5 percent. And, overnight, we saw thousands upon thousands of restaurant workers, retail workers, folks in the hotel industry driven to the unemployment lines.
We have seen a 4000 percent increase in unemployment benefits in South Carolina. It is consistent throughout this nation.
One of the reasons why the president has got to balance living and livelihood is because poverty also has a negative consequence that lingers for decades, if not generations. So he is understandably concerned not simply about our health. He’s done a great job of trying to balance that.
But he’s also concerned about the economic health of this nation. And we both know that poverty kills. And so what he’s trying to do is to position this economy to come back with a vengeance.
SCOTT: I think, during his State of the Union speech, when he was talking about the great American comeback, he was talking, foreshadowing the necessity of a V-shaped recovery coming out of this virus before we even knew about a virus.
SCOTT: So it’s really important for us to get back to work.
BARTIROMO: Which is why you and your colleagues have been working on a whole host of stimulus programs. You’re talking about $7.5 trillion in stimulus thrown at this economy, when you consider the Congress, as well as the Federal Reserve, and all of the money being flooded on this economy.
Let’s talk about this upcoming week and see if there is news to break here. Second Mnuchin says that the Congress should reach a deal today on supplemental funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.
BARTIROMO: He said that he’s hopeful that the deal will happen on another $300 billion in small business funding, and that could be passed in the Senate on Monday and in the House on Tuesday.
What’s your timeline in terms of additional money for the Paycheck Program? And how are you going to vote in the upcoming week for further stimulus, sir?
SCOTT: Well, I support the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program.
I always like to say that the Democrats who are holding this up, realize you’re not negatively impacting businesses, as much as you’re negatively impacting people’s ability to pay their rent, to pay their utilities, to feed their kids.
This is a serious situation, that we shouldn’t have a lapse in funding for the PPP program. We should tell Ms. Nancy Pelosi, please give us our paychecks. People need their paychecks. And stop holding it hostage in order to do something else.
Going forward, I hope that this week, on Monday, the Senate is able to vote on a package that’s agreed upon with the House and the Senate. Tuesday, the Democrats get it passed. And Tuesday, one minute later, we start refunding, replenishing the supply of the Paycheck Protection Program.
People are calling every single day. Hundreds are calling our offices, thousands, I’m sure, throughout this nation, because they want their paychecks. And we shouldn’t stand in the way of making that happen.
BARTIROMO: Are you expecting any changes in terms of the structure of this program?
Because your colleague Senator Lindsey Graham has said that, in South Carolina, you’re being paid more money to stay home than you are to actually go to work? Also, the structure of the — 75 percent of the money has to go right out the window to employees; 25 percent remaining to pay rent and other expenses may not be enough wiggle room.
Are you expecting changes on that structure? And the fight right now is about what, putting more money toward hospitals and giving more money to the states?
BARTIROMO: What specific issues are you wrangling with your Democratic colleagues over?
SCOTT: I think that you make several good points there.
First, we certainly need to make sure that we take a look at phase four, or CARES 2, depending on how you want to call it. Restaurants that are going to reopen, they are going to need more space, which means fewer tables. That means your overhead expenses are going to increase.
Your labor costs may be static or fall down. So, if you have a program that requires 75 percent of the money to go to payroll, 25 percent for overhead, that will not work.
The new normal may require businesses to have higher overhead expenses and few — and lower labor costs. We need to adapt to that reality. And we need to adapt very quickly.
SCOTT: Gyms, another part of our economy, that needs higher overhead expenses and lower actual number of employees.
So we’re going to have to do that, at the same time we’re balancing why we should reduce the unemployment benefits in the CARES Act. We are saying, if you make $24 or less, you could make as much, if not more, staying home.
SCOTT: That is a problem. It’s a perverse incentive that only increases our unemployment claims, as opposed to encouraging people to go back to work.
We need to work. We want to work. And we should not…
BARTIROMO: Senator, I…
BARTIROMO: I love your book, because it’s so empowering. It takes us through your story and your journey. And you have had some hard — hard hits there.
President Obama endorsed Vice President Biden this week. And he talks about minorities, and tweeted about that portion of the population getting harder hit by coronavirus.
Anything you can say about the black vote right now in terms of their feelings toward President Trump, as well as telling us in terms of why you wrote this book?
SCOTT: Well, two things.
Number one, President Trump is starting to see support from the weirdest corners of the world. And you hear — you heard the African-American Democrat state representative in Michigan praising Donald Trump and the use of chloroquine to help save her life.
BARTIROMO: That’s true.
SCOTT: You hear in Georgia here, right, my cousins next door, African-American state representative who is a Democrat saying that President Trump’s strong support of our economy and the African-American community, historically black colleges and universities…
SCOTT: … the whole criminal justice reform, we’re seeing support from some very strange corners.
SCOTT: I still hold to my prediction that President Trump will see a 50 percent increase in African-American vote.
Senator, it’s great to see you this morning. Thanks very much for being here, Tim Scott joining us there.
SCOTT: Thank you very much.