Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has been doing a round of interviews from her San Francisco, California, home over the past 24 hours, celebrating Democrats’ “victory” over Senate Republicans, blocking an emergency extension to the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses suffering under coronavirus lockdowns — a program that is slated to run out of money as early as Friday.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Pelosi actually congratulated her Senate colleagues for standing firm against the emergency aid bill.
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Pelosi is referring specifically to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) plea to pump an additional $250 billion into the $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a fund that is supplying low-interest and forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees, many of whom are suffering under coronavirus-related lockdowns in effect across the country.
“The SBA says it will forgive the loans if all of a businesses workers stay employed for eight weeks and the money is used for rent, mortgage interest, utilities and payroll,” according to the program’s guidelines.
Just yesterday, Business Journals reported that two-thirds of the $350 billion “has already been allocated” and the fund will likely be depleted “within days.” One financial expert even predicted, Wednesday, that the much-needed money could be gone as early as Friday.
“The Paycheck Protection Program, which is run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, as of Monday morning had approved 880,000 applications for a total of $217 billion, according to SBA figures,” Fortune magazine reports. “That equals roughly 62% of allocated dollars, up from 48% allocated on Friday. Applications for the program are continuing to flood in, with an additional 219,000 submitted since Friday.’
Pelosi and her colleagues in the Senate, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have refused to allow McConnell to pass the additional funding by unanimous consent — an easy way to quickly approve legislation without having to convene the entire Senate.
They want billions in additional aid to hospitals, healthcare facilities, cities, and states handling the novel coronavirus, and guarantees that minority and female candidates will receive preferential treatment for small business loans — a bureaucratic hurdle that could add time and red tape to the already extensive PPP application process.
This is all in addition to a nearly $1 trillion fourth coronavirus relief bill that Pelosi is reportedly drafting in her self-isolation, and on top of billions in aid to healthcare facilities and local governments included in the Senate-drafted third coronavirus relief bill, the CARES act, which passed just weeks ago.
American businesses are in desperate need. As the Daily Wire reported earlier on Wednesday, retail sales dropped a shocking 9% last month. The Wall Street Journal adds that swaths of the economy ground to a halt in March: ‘Sales at clothing stores dropped by more than 50%, while spending on motor vehicles, furniture, electronics, and sporting goods fell by double digits.” The Associated Press reports that 30% of restaurants — most of whom fall within the PPP’s definition of a “small business” are expected to go under.
The decline is “unprecedented” WSJ reports, and April’s numbers are expected to be even worse.